EVART — Dry eyes were hard to find in the Evart High School gymnasium on Thursday, Dec. 13, as young Austin Tennant thanked senior student Nichole Roys for saving his life.

On Tuesday, Dec. 4, Tennant and Roys were riding home on the bus when Tennant, a fourth-grader at Evart Elementary, began choking on a piece of hard candy. Without thinking, Roys said she jumped into action and began performing the Heimlich maneuver until the candy came free.

On Thursday, Roys was presented with a plaque from the Evart Police Department for her heroism.

“I got up and jumped in his seat,” she said. “‘Make sure he gets it out, make sure he can breathe.’ That’s all that was going through my mind.”

Roys said she was alerted to Tennant’s struggles when a student yelled for the bus driver. Before the bus could be safely stopped on the side of the road, Roys was in Tennant’s seat, working to make sure he was breathing.

“I was really proud of her,” Roys’ mother, Karen, said. “She’s really quiet and shy and she just got up and did this.”

Roys learned the technique through her studies at the Mecosta-Osceola Career Center, where she is training in the corrections program.

“I’m thankful she could do this,” Kathie Denslow, Tennant’s great-grandmother, said of Roys’ actions. “My other grandson, who rides the bus too, said she didn’t even think twice.”

Denslow said Tennant got off the bus complaining that his ribs hurt before his older brother told the family about what had happened. Denslow then called the high school and the career center to let administrators know about Roys’ quick thinking.

“It’s a rare occasion that someone is put in a situation where they have to save a life,” said EHS Principal Jessica Kolenda. “Today, we are here celebrating something that happened and could have turned tragic.”