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Caught on camera: New Jersey sandwich shop worker Danielle Buccelli saves choking customer

ROCKAWAY, N.J. — A New Jersey sandwich shop worker is being hailed a hero for saving a customer’s life. The moment was caught on video at Primo Hoagies in Rockaway. 

CBS2’s Zinnia Maldonado spoke 21-year-old Danielle Buccelli about the moment she saw a woman choking and jumped in to save her life. 

Buccelli showed up for work at 9 a.m. Thursday, which started like any other day. But just a few hours later, Buccelli would be saving someone’s life. 

“At first it took me a second to register what was going on and I was like, she’s choking,” Buccelli said. 

Buccelli sprang into action. 

“She came running over, and she was kind of like pushing on her stomach. And she was trying to make a noise, but it was just like air coming out,” Buccelli said. “So I just ran around the counter and performed the Heimlich maneuver on her.” 

Buccelli said she believes the customer received a text with bad news right before she started choking.

The whole ordeal was caught on the restaurant’s security video. It shows the woman frantically jumped up from her chair and ran towards the counter. Buccelli then wrapped her arms around the woman’s waist in a successful Heimlich maneuver. 

“She started crying. She said ‘Thank you so much, I really appreciate you. You saved my life,'” Buccelli said. 

“You always see it on TV shows, movies, and you never think it’s going to happen in real life until it actually does,” said Lizzie Sengle, assistant manager at Primo Hoagies 

Buccelli is a volunteer firefighter. Although she’s been certified for seven years, this was the first time she had to perform CPR.

She and her coworkers hope this incident inspires others to step up and help when the time comes. 

“An innocent bystander can help. It doesn’t just have to be a medical team,” Buccelli said. 

“It’s that split-second decision that always makes a difference,” Sengle said. 

Primo Hoagies gave Buccelli $1,000 for her heroic actions. 

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