Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill suffered a broken rib after choking at a Senate lunch Thursday, where her Senate colleague Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, performed the Heimlich maneuver to save her.
The story was first reported by The Washington Post.
“She started choking. People cough, you think, well. And then started getting real red. ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,’ ” Manchin said Monday. “I was big enough and tall enough to get some leverage on her and pick her up off her feet. I kept jerking and jerking and jerking until she said, ‘You’re hurting me now.’ “
He continued: “I knew she could breathe then. I just go underneath her breastplate and give it all I had. … We were all just so thankful. It was all so scary. You can’t imagine.”
He added that someone called 911 but the incident happened so quickly it was over before they came. The Capitol physician came to check McCaskill’s vital signs and she was fine, Manchin said.
He said there were 20 to 30 Democratic senators at the lunch, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
“She was in trouble before that. She could have choked to death,” he said. “And you know Claire, she’s tougher than nails.”
McCaskill’s office confirmed that while she attended an NAACP dinner in Missouri, she told people she couldn’t hug them because of a broken rib, an accident from Manchin performing the Heimlich maneuver.
“I’m really grateful to Joe – a little bit of a sore rib for a couple of weeks is no big deal,” she said in a statement provided to CNN.
Both McCaskill and Manchin are facing tough re-election bids in their home states of Missouri and West Virginia.
CNN’s Lauren Fox contributed to this report.