MAPLE SHADE, N.J. - A New Jersey woman says thank you to the woman who saved her from choking.
The two women were reunited at the Maple Hill restaurant in Maple Shade, New Jersey. This is the very restaurant where two weeks ago, a matter of life and death would bring them together.
Mary Beth Eger is a retired 911 dispatcher.
She said, "It was a blessing, I've never been so frightened in my life, I really didn't think I was gonna make it."
Eger was having dinner when she suddenly began choking on some food.
"Everybody's saying, 'are you okay?' and I like (shakes head indicating no) and then I gave them a sign," said Eger.
Surveillance video shows people standing around not knowing what to do.
"At that point, I couldn't see anything and my knees were buckling and I was passing out," she said.
Sitting nearby was Aquariana McCuster, a retired emergency medical technician from Boston who runs up after her service dog got her attention that a woman was in distress and needed help.
She said, "I saw the finger tips to her neck and the elbows up to the side, and I knew that was a signal that she was choking."
Eger added, "She was so strong and she came behind me and picked me in the air, and did two and a half Heimlich maneuvers and it came out and I started getting my color back."
McCuster had to retire as an EMT before she could become a paramedic because of a severe allergy to latex. But clearly all that training did not go to waste.
Action News asked McCuster if she thought it was a mere coincidence.
"I don't believe in coincidences, I believe in synchronistic events. And I believe the creator brought me at the right place at the right time."
Grateful to be alive, Eger threw a party for McCuster to thank her and bought gifts for her and her dog.
Eger said, "For the last 36 years, I tell people on the phone, I was a 911 operator-how to take care of someone whose choking and here I am and I couldn't do anything for myself."
So whether you want to call it fate or something else, it was by any measure, an extraordinary set of circumstances that brought these people together at that particular moment in time, at this particular place, the Maple Hill restaurant in maple shade, New Jersey. Two perfect strangers that are now friends for life.
Eger says, "Thank you so much. And McCuster says, "Aww, you don't owe me anything sweetheart." But Eger says, "Ah yes, I do, my life."
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