Bartender at North Naples restaurant saves woman from choking

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
woman choking naples
Credit: Jim Malo

A bartender at a North Naples restaurant stepped in when he heard someone yell that a woman was choking.

“Just heard somebody yell ‘she’s choking.’ Then I heard she’s not breathing,” said Vince Hemingway.

The Watermark Grille bartender then sprinted from his bar to a booth to find an older woman who needed help.

“You could tell she was not breathing,” Hemingway said.

Jim Malo, owner of the Watermark Grille, saw Hemingway run across the bar. “He could’ve been a marathon runner.”

“This lady was turning blue,” Malo said.

Hemingway knew right then and there that he had to perform the Heimlich maneuver to save the woman.

A video recorded the encounter and you can see that he attempted to do it while she was still sitting in the booth. Unfortunately, he couldn’t.

“Her sternum was pushed down toward her hips and her leg was up on the booth so I couldn’t get underneath there.”

“He was shaking that last 20 seconds, he didn’t think he was going to get it out of her,” Malo said.

The bartender’s solution was to pull the woman out of the booth. Once she was out, it only took one compression to save the woman’s life.

“Not knowing if I was going to be able to do it or not, and then her being able to breathe was a huge relief,” Hemingway said.

Malo said this makes Hemingway his hero, but Hemingway doesn’t describe himself that way.

“It’s human nature to help. We are all heroes; everybody could do the same.”

He was just glad he was able to help.

Malo said the woman had surgery on her throat two months ago, so her throat was a bit constricted.

Hemingway said this was the fourth time he’s had to perform the Heimlich maneuver on someone and all have been successful.

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