A group of friends whose annual New Year’s Eve celebration turned tragic when one man began choking on a piece of meat moments before midnight is asking for prayers as he battles for his life at Nebraska Medicine. Five friends at the annual celebration tried the Heimlich maneuver on 51-year-old Brian O’Neill before a doctor with the group was forced to perform an emergency tracheotomy with a steak knife, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
“No one should ever have to say goodbye to their brother or a loved one in this fashion,” O’Neill’s brother, Mike, told KETV.com. “It’s awful, just awful.”
Mike told the Omaha World-Herald that doctors plan to wean his brother off medication Tuesday to evaluate his responses.
“It was just a bad freak accident,” he told the news outlet.
The family said doctors determined the tracheotomy did not cause further damage to O’Neill’s health as the meat was lodged deep in his chest, KETV.com reported. He lost consciousness before paramedics were able to re-open his airway.
The community held a rosary service on Monday and dedicated it to O’Neill, who is well-known as a coach in the town’s youth sports circuit.
“You should never leave home without telling everyone you love them, because you never know when something like this is going to happen and if that will be the last time you talk to them,” Mike told KETV.com. “We need your prayers.”