BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Something told School Resource Deputy Christopher Downey to walk back through the cafeteria one more time.

"Somebody was watching out. That’s what we’ll say about that. I don’t know what it was but something just told me I need to go back through the cafeteria," Downey said.

Tuesday morning as breakfast was wrapping up in the cafeteria, 3-year-old Jayton Thomas started choking on a piece of cinnamon bread. Thomas, who is autistic and non-verbal had stopped breathing. 

His teacher picked him up and rushed over to Deputy Downey.

"You could see he was not breathing. He was still conscious but not breathing and he was trying to get the object out and couldn’t," recalled Downey.

Downey did the Heimlich maneuver on the boy and it was enough to free the piece of bread and clear his airway.

Tonya Thomas, Jayton's mom choked back tears Wednesday as she told reporters, "Thank goodness for this man. If it wasn’t for people like him, you know, how could you feel comfortable with your child who is non-verbal, who is autistic, who is not able to ask for help or say that he has a problem or that he needs his food cut, or even know that he needs to chew more or anything like that?"

Deputy Downey doesn't consider himself a hero but Tonya Thomas disagrees.

"Absolutely he’s a hero. Absolutely. What if he wasn’t there? What if the teacher wasn’t able to remove that? What if we had to wait for an ambulance?"

Thomas said she and Deputy Downey will forever hold a special bond. He saved her son's life. It doesn't get stronger than that.

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