BY BRENDA DOMINICK
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Marianna Weissenborn had less than a minute to get help when she started choking on some grapefruit. Fortunately, co-worker Ebony Turonek was there.
“I thought I would die,” Weissenborn said at a recognition event at Clarkston Post Office, April 27. “I was so grateful and thankful, and I know if she was not there, I would not be here.”
“We do good with helping each other out and watching out for each other, like ‘don’t step on that,’ or ‘watch that,’” Turonek said.
Weissenborn, a carrier technician at the Clarkston Annex Post Office on the south side of S. Main Street, was talking and eating some grapefruit, Jan. 4, when a piece went down wrong.
“I went to go to the bathroom so nobody would see. Then, I recognized I could not make it so I said, I have to be where the people are,” she said.
“She was choking on some grapefruit, and I saw her out the side of my eye walking to the bathroom,” Turonek said.
“But then she stopped and came over by our area where we were doing parcels. I can’t remember what I was doing when I saw her with tears coming out of her eyes.”
Weissenborn was struggling, unable to make any noise or even breath.
“That’s when I went to do the Heimlich (maneuver). I did it a couple times and lifted her up off the ground and I got scared I might be hurting her,” Turonek said. “But by the time I stopped, it shot out into the trash can. It was this big piece of grapefruit. The first thing I said was, ‘Marianna, you’ve gotta chew your food,’ and everybody just was like, ‘oh my God.’”
The postal clerk turned hero said she learned CPR and first aid through the Red Cross in eighth grade, about 30 years ago. This was the first time she has ever used the Heimlich for real. Turonek has been at the Clarkston Post Office for about three years and Weissenborn has worked there about 15 years.
“I feel it’s extremely ironic because I’m an author, and my book is called, Compelled to Murder, but I was compelled to save Marianna that day,” Turonek said
Her advice to others: “Always be open to being a helping hand because you never know what people are going through. I try to work like that with everybody and get along with everybody in the office by understanding where they are coming from, or just being empathetic to their situation. It has actually made our office a little better – making us stick together.”
The staff at the Clarkston Post Office feel more like a family environment, not a work environment, she said.
For more information about Turonek’s book, go to erayeturonekbooks.us/more.