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Airline Co-Pilot Saves Girl Choking Aboard Plane

January 3, 1988

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) _ An off-duty American Airlines co-pilot saved the life of a 2-year-old girl when she apparently began choking on a piece of candy aboard a commercial flight Saturday, the girl’s father said.

″Boy, I tell you I was absolutely terrified,″ said the father, Frank Mann of Hanford, Calif.″Her eyes rolled back in her head. ... But he put her on the floor and kept on working on her and just did a fantastic job.″

The co-pilot, first officer Tom Grove, 39, was in a cockpit observation seat of a 25-passenger American Eagle propjet when a stewardess alerted him to the choking girl minutes after takeoff from Alexandria to Dallas-Fort Worth.

″You always think, ‘God, this will never happen to me,’ ″ Grove said in a telephone interview from his Fort Worth home Saturday. ″I’m just glad I had the training.″

The toddler, Jofrae, was accompanying her parents on a holiday visit to Mann’s mother in Alexandria, Mann said by telephone from the Los Angeles airport after his family arrived back there.

Grove said he tried the Heimlich maneuver - applying sharp pressure to the girl’s abdomen - but it didn’t work. When he tried to stick his finger down Jofrae’s throat to dislodge what was believed to be a piece of candy, the girl bit him, he said.

Finally, he said, he got his finger down her throat and made her cough up the object.

The pilot of the American Eagle flight called ahead to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport for an ambulance. However, paramedics later found the girl in good condition, Grove said.

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