“Call it divine intervention,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “Whatever you believe in; there was something at work here.”
CHIPLEY — Sometimes the pieces just fall into place.
Walton County Sheriff’s Office detention deputy Thomas Corbett wasn’t planning to go to lunch Wednesday. But he and three others who were attending Florida Panhandle Technical College in Chipley decided to grab a bite at Javier’s Mexican Grill.
“He didn’t want to go at first,” Walton Deputy Tyler Elmore said.
Elmore was the one who eventually persuaded Corbett to go. But, that wasn’t the first piece to fall into place. Or even the second.
The day before, retired Sgt. Joseph Rozeir taught a first aid class.
“I actually changed the schedule around this week,” said Rozeir, corrections coordinator and an instructor at the college. “But I moved some things around last minute. Something spiritual was going on, no matter how you look at it.”
Corbett, Elmore and Walton Deputies Kyle Pearce and Pablo Dade, attended the class, where they learned how to perform CPR and do an abdominal thrust to save a choking victim.
Then, the final piece.
Corbett sat across the restaurant from a large party. When he was almost finished with his meal he noticed a small boy stand up. Corbett immediately knew what was happening when he saw a small amount of saliva coming from the boy’s mouth.
He was choking.
Kayln Hardin of Bonifay, who was at Javier's, felt Corbett’s chair hit hers as he got up to run over.
"He (the boy) started to turn colors and his head started drooping because he couldn't breathe," Hardin said. “I could tell the little boy was losing consciousness.”
As Corbett got to the table, the little boy slumped over in his chair.
“I immediately positioned my hands to perform the abdominal thrust,” Corbett said. “The boy was small enough to where I eventually switched and tried a few back blows.”
Elmore, Pearce and Dade quickly starting clearing chairs in case CPR was needed.
The piece of food came loose. Tears started to run down the little boy’s face.
“I just looked at him and asked him if he was all right,” Corbett said. “He started to cry and his mother rushed him into the bathroom."
“He just went back to his table and sat down,” Hardin said of Corbett. “I just kept thinking, ‘He just saved that boy’s life.’ ”
Corbett and the three other men paid their bill and returned to class.
“Call it divine intervention,” Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson said. “Whatever you believe in, there was something at work here.”
“All I want to do is work every day to become a better person and change people’s lives for the better,” Corbett said.