EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — A 15-year-old from Edina is being hailed by law enforcement as a hero for rushing to the aid of one of her customers at the McDonald's in Eden Prairie.
Sydney Raley, who has worked at the fast food chain since the summer, said her Saturday shift started out normally. But with a careful eye while presenting food to guests at the drive-through window, she noticed a woman she was serving didn't look okay.
"I noticed that she was coughing profusely and her daughter just had this look on her face like sheer terror," said Raley. "I could tell oh, crap, she’s choking! Just seeing that visceral reaction I knew we need to act fast."
Raley had taken Red Cross first aid training when she was 11 years old to become a babysitter. She put the training to use and acted fast.
"I jumped out the window of the drive-through and I got her out of the car and I told her daughter to call 911. I started doing the Heimlich maneuver, but I’m not really strong so it didn’t work the first couple times."
She says that's when she called over a bystander who was parked in the lot while waiting for his food. The bystander successfully dislodged a chicken nugget the woman was choking on, according to Raley and police who responded to the scene.
"It could’ve ended a lot worse but I am super thankful for that bystander who helped so much," said Raley. "Because I am decent at first aid, but if it weren’t for him and our efforts together, it could’ve ended so much worse."
The two Eden Prairie Police officers who responded to the scene each gave Raley a $50 bill. Sergeant Scott Mittelstadt says it's part of money that each offer is given to recognize or help out citizens around the holiday season.
"Our crime fund gave every officer fifty dollars to hand out to wherever we feel the need, [including] if somebody did outstanding work, above and beyond," said Sergeant Scott Mittelstadt. "She is well-deserving of that money."
Raley's parents, Tom and Stephanie, say they're super proud of their daughter, who they refer to as "Sydney Sunshine." They say she has autism and is gifted with a brilliant mind.
"I always tell her she has a gift, because she's autistic," said Tom. "She can remember anything – do anything. It's crazy."
Stephanie adds that her daughter remembers everything as a script, which no doubt helped her recall the training with the Heimlich maneuver.
"She remembered all of the training as a script in her head and was able to jump into action right away, just because it was stored up there and she can recall anything she reads and hears," Stephanie said.
Raley, who turns 16 in a few weeks, was humbled by the recognition from police and says it's "insane" that they gave her 100 dollars. She says the whole experience helped her learn about herself.
"You feel as though like--huh--I’m actually capable of contributing to society and actually like capable of making a difference."