Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

SPC president springs into action when college trustee chokes

St. Petersburg College president Bill Law was having dinner with a few of the college trustees last week when he became an unexpected hero.

He was attending a national trustees convention in Washington, D.C., with SPC trustees Ken Burke, Robert Fine and Deveron Gibbons. They decided to go to Bobby Van's Steakhouse a couple of blocks from their hotel.

It happened to be Valentine's Day. And Law joked that he was sure they'd all rather spend the evening with somebody else.

When their meals arrived, Gibbons took a bite of his steak.

A piece of meat lodged in his throat. And he couldn't breathe.

Law, who was sitting across from Gibbons, saw Gibbons' hands clutch his throat and his eyes open wide.

"I could see he was in severe distress," Law said.

Burke said he's embarrassed to admit it now, but he and Fine didn't realize what was happening until they saw Law leap out of his chair, rush around the table and wrap his arms around Gibbons' waist.

Law performed three or four Heimlich thrusts. And Gibbons coughed up the food.

The others soon resumed eating their dinners.

Gibbons wasn't in the mood to eat, Burke said.

"It's the most scary moment I've ever had," Gibbons said Tuesday after the college's Board of Trustees meeting, where Fine shared the story with the audience.

"Not sure if everyone is aware," Fine said, "our president is a great first responder."

Fine said Law "sprang into action and saved Mr. Gibbons' life."

Law had never done the Heimlich maneuver before. He'd only read about it in health literature.

It's amazing how quickly a casual dinner became something else, Law said.

"One second everything is fine," he said. "The next second, you realize you've got something really serious on your hands."

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4155. Go to tampabay.com/letters to write a letter to the editor.

SPC president springs into action when college trustee chokes 02/21/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 10:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Spacewalking astronauts pull off urgent repairs at International Space Station (w/video)

    Space

    CAPE CANAVERAL — Spacewalking astronauts completed urgent repairs at the International Space Station on Tuesday, replacing equipment that failed three days earlier and restoring a backup for a vital data-relay system.

    In this NASA provided frame from video, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer works to install antennas at the International Space Station while astronaut Peggy Whitson, not pictured, works on repairs Tuesday, May 23, 2017. [NASA via AP]
  2. For starters: Rays vs. Angels, with Cobb leading the way

    Blogs

    Rays veteran RHP Alex Cobb had a lot to say Monday about the team needing to focus on getting past .500 and building a winning record.

    And after the disappointing 3-2 loss that …

    Alex Cobb will start tonight when the Rays play the Angels.
  3. Tampa murder suspect told police he wanted to stop neo-Nazi roommates from committing acts of domestic terrorism

    Criminal

    TAMPA — After he admitted to shooting two roommates and led police to their dead bodies, Devon Arthurs said he committed the killings to prevent the pair from carrying out terrorist acts, a prosecutor wrote in a court filing.

    Devon Arthurs, 18, told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam, according to a police report.
[Tampa Police]
  4. Pinellas School Board approves plan that aims to close achievement gap

    K12

    After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the Pinellas County School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan that aims to tackle the achievement gap in 10 years and settles a long-running lawsuit over the education of …

    "I'm an optimist. I think this is going to work," Pinellas School Board member Linda Lerner said Tuesday after the board was presented with a plan that aims to settle a long-running lawsuit over the education of black students and close the achievement gap. The board voted 7-0 to approve the plan. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. With big concerts approaching, Tampa Bay venues remain vigilant after Manchester attack

    Public Safety

    In the aftermath of an explosion that killed at least 22 people — including children — moments after a pop concert ended in England on Monday night, local venues assured the public that security will remain tight for Tampa Bay area's upcoming big-ticket shows.

    Fans cross Himes Avenue in Tampa toward Raymond James Stadium before the start of Beyonce's Formation World Tour in Tampa on April 29, 2016. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]