2 brothers saved a choking toddler's life at Espanola, Ont., restaurant

Two brothers were out for dinner at a restaurant in Espanola, Ont., when they jumped into action to save a choking young child's life.

Talon McGregor, a community nurse, used his training to help the boy

Two men sitting at a restaurant table with drinks in hand.
Talon McGregor, right, and his brother Mskwoka were having dinner at the Cortina Restaurant in Espanola, Ont., when they both reacted to save a choking child's life. (Cortina Restaurant Espanloa/Facebook)

Thanks to a snowstorm in northeastern Ontario, a two-year-old boy is alive.

On Wednesday, Talon McGregor and his brother Mskwoka were headed to Sudbury from Whitefish River First Nation to see Avatar: The Way of Water.

But due to the snowstorm and poor driving conditions, they stopped along their route to have dinner at the Cortina Restaurant in Espanola.

They never made it to the movie.

While they were eating, Talon said, he heard a commotion at a nearby table.

"We thought, you know, it was maybe just a little ordeal with some staff and someone eating, so we didn't want to bother anyone," he said.

But when the screaming got louder, they realized something was wrong.

"That's when we heard for help," Talon said.

"So that's when you realize that it wasn't what we originally thought, and so we got up and I guess were just quick to react."

He eventually went unconscious and that's when, you know, things were looking very, very dark.- Talon McGregor

When he approached the table, he saw a little boy who appeared to be gasping for air, and someone yelled he was choking. 

Talon told the crowd he had medical training — he works as a community health nurse in Whitefish River First Nation — and asked if someone could hand him the boy.

"So I started doing what I was trained [to do] and just continuously trying to keep going no matter what."

He used back blows and abdominal thrusts to help clear the airway of the toddler, who was choking on a piece of bread.

Talon said the child was unresponsive for a time.

"He eventually went unconscious and that's when things were looking very, very dark," he said.

"That's when you just try and tell yourself, 'Don't give up on it.' I know he might be unconscious at that time, but you still have a chance."

A woman with three young boys pose for a selfie.
Brittany Ackworth says her two-year-old son Jameson, centre, choked on a piece of bread while at a restaurant on Wednesday, but a stranger saved his life. (Brittany Ackworth/Facebook)

Talon kept at it and he eventually heard the child cry. That was a good sign because it meant he could breathe, even just a little.

While he was aiding the toddler, Talon's brother Mskwoka helped keep the family calm. The boy was with his parents and two older brothers.

"So he [Mskwoka] was there for them, just not distracting them, but kind of keeping them in good graces, trying to hope for the best," Talon said.

If it wasn't for them, I don't know what would have happened to my son.-Brittany Ackworth

The child's mother, Brittany Ackworth, said Jameson might not be alive without the McGregor brothers' intervention.

"I am so glad that they had been there last night," she said.

"I mean, if it wasn't for them, I don't know what would have happened to my son. The ambulance did get there fairly quickly, but he was already unconscious, so who knows if he would have had any brain damage or anything."

Ackworth said she brought Jameson to the hospital after the ordeal, but "he was acting like nothing happened" and appeared to be fine.

She said she had a breakdown, and had to walk away from the scene while Talon was helping Jameson.

Ackworth was at the Cortina Restaurant for a family dinner, but also works there. She said it was difficult to return to her job the next morning, but she was doing better later that day.

"My boyfriend messaged him [Talon] last night and let him know that our little boy is doing good and gave our thanks," she said.

With files from Markus Schwabe