Employee saves life of choking customer at Rockaway Sandwich Shop

A sandwich shop worker saved the life of a choking woman Friday afternoon in Rockaway, according to authorities and dramatic security video from inside the store.

Danielle Buccelli, 21, used the Heimlich maneuver once she realized a midday customer was choking on Primo Hoagies, the video showed.

“At the time, with the adrenaline, I just didn’t think,” she said in an interview. “I just did it.”

Buccelli, a Randolph resident, learned the Heimlich maneuver during CPR training she received as a teenager.

Her father joined the Randolph Township Fire Department after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. So Buccelli said she grew up around first responders, joining the fire department when she was 16. There, she had to get recertification in CPR every two years.

So when the woman, whom authorities have not identified, began choking on her sandwich, Buccelli said she was ready.

“I ran behind the counter and performed the Heimlich maneuver,” Buccelli said, thinking to himself, “You were prepared for this moment. Now you have to do what you were trained to do.

Buccelli said she worked at Primo Hoagies about 40 hours spread over five or six days a week. She added that it’s “all around a really nice place to work”.

Primo Hoagies headquarters said the company gave Buccelli $1,000 for saving the woman’s life on Friday. She plans to either save the money or use it for her wedding next fall.

“Danielle, literally from the start, was a fantastic employee,” said Vinny DeRose, general manager of the Rockaway site. “(She) always cared about everyone who came in and was just an extremely hard worker.”

Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to NJ.com.

Camille Furst can be reached at cfurst@njadvancemedia.com. Find her on Twitter @CamilleFurst.

Leave a Comment