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Heimlich helps student save friend's life

Havre Daily News/Lindsay Brown

Kade Lanier, left, and Franlkin Walter pose for a portrait Monday morning at Havre High School. Kade recently performed the Heimlich maneuver on Walter.

An ordinary day at Havre High School turned life-threatening for one student, but luckily for him, a friend nearby was ready to save the day.

Kade Lanier and Franklin Walter were eating their school lunches April 17 when Franklin started choking on a bite of egg roll, Kade, a junior, quickly performed the Heimlich maneuver on him and cleared his airway.

"I just saw Frankie going like this," said Kade mimicking the choking sound a person makes when their airway is completely obstructed, "and I went behind him and did the Heimlich, and the food popped out."

Kade, the son of Bill Lanier and Stacy Steinmetz of Havre, was even more matter of fact about the event when he got home, and his parents didn't know until the next day what had really happened.

"He kind of mentioned it to his mom when he got home from school," said Lanier, adding that it wasn't until Franklin's grandmother called the next day to thank Kade and make sure his parents knew how much she appreciated him that they knew the full story.

Franklin, a special-needs student, is physically fragile, and without Kade's fast action, could've quickly suffered irreparable harm from lack of oxygen, said special education teacher Jamie Standaert, who has taught both Kade and Franklin.

Having been friends and classmates with Franklin since middle school and helped Franklin while working as a student aid and a volunteer for Special Olympics, Kade also was aware that using too much force could have easily broken some of Franklin's ribs, said Lanier, but he knew what he was doing.

Kade credits his knowledge of the Heimlich to his years in Boy Scouts, where he not only learned it to earn different merit badges, but also taught it as a den chief helping with the younger Cub Scouts.

This wasn't the first time Kade, who plans to try for Eagle Scout this year, saved a life, said Lanier, who is an Eagle Scout himself and is the current parent leader for Troop 1438.

At a Scout party last year, Lanier said, the troop was playing in the pool at the TownHouse Inn of Havre when Kade noticed that a young boy who couldn't swim got too far into the deep end and went under the water, struggling.

"No one else noticed," said Lanier, "not any of the adults, the other kids or the boy's parents, and Kade pulled him up from the bottom of the pool and took him back to his family."

Kade, who isn't a large teenager, had scrapes on his chest where the young boy scratched him in his panic under water, but Kade stuck with it, his dad said.

"He's a great kid overall," said Standaert, who described his quick action in saving Franklin as "an incredible act of kindness from one student to another."

"It shows that with the right preparation, kids can do life-saving measures," she added, "and we're all grateful to him."

But Kade was more casual about his heroism.

"It felt pretty cool," he said.

"We're very proud of him," said his dad.


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