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North Bend waitress serves up life-saving hug

Julie Moshay takes a quick break at the Country Pride Restaurant to talk about her experience saving a customer from choking on Sunday Dec. 12. - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo
Julie Moshay takes a quick break at the Country Pride Restaurant to talk about her experience saving a customer from choking on Sunday Dec. 12.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

Julie Moshay is a reluctant hero, an avoider of the spotlight. She likes being on the team, and if she has to lead, it's going to be by example.

When someone gave her a "World's Best Waitress" pin to wear on her apron, she added a small "in Training" label to the bottom of it.

Her actions may be the only reason that truck driver Ralph Snyder is still driving around, but she's not comfortable being called a hero.

"I understand why people say 'I just did what anyone would have done,' because that's what I was thinking!" said Moshay, recounting how she saved Snyder's life on Sunday, Dec. 12.

It was a very busy day at the Country Pride Restaurant at Travel Centers of America in North Bend. Moshay said she and her co-workers were in the back, picking up orders, when Snyder came down the hallway, coughing.

Snyder said he'd felt his throat closing up while he'd been eating at the counter, and he tried drinking some iced tea to clear his throat, but that didn't work.

He went down the hallway, trying to clear his throat, but mainly to avoid the busy dining area. "It's kind of embarrassing, not being able to breathe, in front of people," he said.

In the past, Snyder had a similar experience in Los Angeles, only then, no one even tried to help him, he said. Maybe that's why he wasn't really looking for help, and he wasn't really scared -- yet. "When you stop breathing, though, how long can you last?" he asked.

Moshay and the other servers knew something was wrong, but no one knew how soon help would arrive after a 9-1-1 call. She had been trained in first aid and the Heimlich maneuver in the '80s, and she remembered the number-one rule was "As long as he's making noise, leave him alone."

When Snyder stopped breathing entirely, then she could do something.

"He had his hands to his throat, and he wasn't breathing, so I asked him if he wanted a hug," Moshay said. Snyder nodded vigorously, so Moshay gave him the Heimlich maneuver, remembered from her training.

Snyder coughed, started breathing again, and Moshay was thrilled that "it worked! Then he got a real hug!" she said.

Moshay still had a couple of hours to go in her shift, and the place was packed, so with Snyder's assurance that he was OK, she went back to work, charged up from the experience.

"They're always telling me to slow down here," said Moshay, so the extra adrenaline wasn't much of a problem for her.

Before leaving the restaurant, Snyder wanted to thank Moshay again, and to tell her that he firmly believed that she saved his life. All she could say was "You're welcome! I'm glad you're OK."

Learn more:

The Snoqualmie Fire Department and Eastside Fire & Rescue offer periodic classes for first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). For all classes, you must visit the fire station to register in advance, and pay for the class.

Snoqualmie Fire is hosting a CPR class Jan. 10, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Cost is $5. For more information on this or future classes, visit http://www.ci.snoqualmie.wa.us/Departments/FireDepartment/EducationPreparedness.aspx.

Eastside Fire & Rescue will host classes starting in April. Offerings will include CPR for $22, and first aid for $65. For details, visit http://www.eastsidefire-rescue.org.

You can also search the American Heart Association website at www.heart.org.

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