BROOKSVILLE - When deputies Vincent Mascitelli and Gregory Locke conducted their 3 a.m. security check at a Sunoco gas station Friday, their initial intent wasn't to protect store customers and employees from Doritos.
But shortly after leaving the store and seeing a woman waving her hands and yelling for help at a gas pump, it became clear that was the situation at hand.
"She was waving her arms at us, and Deputy Mascitelli and I went off running," Locke said. "She said her husband was choking."
At the northernmost gas pump at the Sunoco at 765 South Broad Street, a large man struggled to clear the seasoned tortilla chips from his airway.
He was holding his throat with both hands and turning pale, sheriff's officials said.
"He was hunched over, and looked pretty bad," Mascitelli said.
Mascitelli positioned himself behind the man and began performing the Heimlich maneuver, and Locke requested Hernando County Fire Rescue EMS be dispatched to the location.
"I did three abdominal compressions," said Mascitelli, clearing the man's throat.
The man and his wife decided paramedics weren't needed, as his airway was clear and he was breathing normally, according to the sheriff's office.
"They were both very grateful," Locke said of the choking victim and his wife.
The continued thanking the deputies, sheriff's officials said, and the woman asked where she could learn the Heimlich maneuver.
The man's appetite for the brand of chips appeared unwavered by the experience.
"It seemed like he wanted to continue to eat, and I told him to put (the bag) down," Mascitelli said, adding with a smile: "I told him I'm not doing it twice."