Press Releases


MONTREAL, APRIL 2, 2014 – The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) community wants to acknowledge the quick thinking and fast actions of Matthew Lassman, a Secondary V student at Royal West Academy inMontreal West . On February 26, he saw a fellow patron choking while dining at Patisserie De La Gare  on Westminster Avenue , intervened and saved the man’s life.

Sheena McLaughlin, an employee at the Patisserie, commented on Lassman’s super-calm and confident approach to the whole situation.  “He just stood up and did it without thinking,” she said.

Lassman and a friend were sitting in the popular coffee and pastry shop when an older gentleman began choking on what appeared to be a quiche crust.  He asked the gentleman if he was choking. The man could not respond, but was flailing his arms. Lassman told him what he was going to do to help and that it might hurt. He then proceeded to administer abdominal thrusts, dislodging the piece of food.

“I don’t really have any formal training, I basically learned from the Internet, TV shows and movies,” says Lassman. “I guess being an older brother and guiding my sister I have a natural instinct to lead and take initiative. I always thought to myself if something like this ever happened,  how would I react? I feel like a lot of people imagine different scenarios and what they would do if an emergency situation popped up, but I feel like when something actually happens a lot of people don’t follow through or are too scared. I didn’t have any issue doing what I thought was best.”

“I really didn’t know what was going on until I saw the piece of food come flying out,” said McLaughlin.  “He’s a high school student and I think that people have this perception that kids wouldn’t respond the way he did. Not only did he take initiative, but also he was calm, relaxed and he did it so quietly.”

The man thanked Lassman and the restaurant patrons applauded him. The news of his heroic act spread quickly around Royal West Academy, making vice-principal Jeffery Bateman very proud.
“Matthew found himself in a situation where he was able to step up,” said  Bateman. “It is really rewarding to see a young person step up and execute something like what he did. I think Matthew embodies what we hope all of our students would do in the same situation.”
Lassman is graduating this year and it is not surprise that he wishes to pursue a career helping others.

“I would like to go into medicine,” explained Lassman. “I’m really interested particularly in neurology so that’s where I’m aiming right now. I have a cousin who is an ER doctor so I would always look up to him. From that I developed an interest for medicine and helping people.”


Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213