WOODLAND HILLS—The employees of “The Original Pizza Cookery” in Woodland Hills have broken their silence regarding a choking incident that occurred last weekend. Owner Jordan Klempner said he was upset how the story came off in the news and wanted to clarify. Canyon News spoke to Klempner about the incident.
“All the other reports were saying how the police saved the life of the woman choking, but no, it was my staff,” Klempner said.
On Saturday afternoon, March 3, an elderly woman named Ruth started choking in the restaurant and collapsed when the obstructing object could not be removed from her throat. Larissa Pollard, a server at “The Original Pizza Cookery,” was there when the incident occurred.
“I heard Ruth choking and when I got to her table she was on the floor with a bunch of people standing around her,” Pollard told Canyon News. “Josh, one of our employees, immediately called 911 while another girl was trying to give Ruth the Heimlich maneuver.”
It wasn’t until Ruth became unconscious that 911 dispatchers instructed the “Pizza Cookery” crew to lay her down and begin CPR.
“No one knew CPR,” Pollard explained. “It was Melissa Caceras, an ex-employee who happened to be there and also happened to be CPR certified, who stepped in.”
For the next 3 to 5 minutes, Caceras administered chest compressions to Ruth while another employee ran outside the restaurant and waved down LAPD patrol officers Paul Maldonado and Kurt Logan. The two officers immediately entered the restaurant and took over the resuscitation effort.
“I could see something lodged inside the woman’s throat and tried to position her head to clear the object while my partner did chest compressions,” Officer Maldonado said. “Within minutes we were able to get a pulse.”
Paramedics arrived shortly after, and Ruth was transported to a nearby hospital.
“I’m not saying the police didn’t do anything, because they certainly did,” Klempner said. “But it was my staff that did the fast work: calling 911, CPR, and notifying the police outside.”
Server Larissa Pollard explained that it was an honest group effort between the “Pizza Cookery” staff and Officers Maldonado and Logan to help resuscitate Ruth. “But in my opinion, it was Melissa who saved the day,” Pollard said. “I truly believe that if it hadn’t been for her quick response, Ruth wouldn’t be alive.”
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