Miracle-makers run in the Machacek family

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Don Machacek

Laura Machacek just had a gut feeling that the small commotion on the side of Fairview Avenue in Roseville, Minn. Friday afternoon was a life-or-death situation.

“I looked over and I saw the mom standing there with a kid who looked unresponsive,” she said. “The look on her face was 'I am holding my child and he is dying in my arms.'”

Laura raced out of her car to find a young child choking, unable to breathe. Emergency responders were en route, but the mother was frantic. Laura took over. She got down on the ground, held the toddler over a knee and began pounding on his back.

“He started foaming at the mouth,” she said. “I just remember saying, 'He is moving air.'”

Paramedics eventually arrived and Laura handed off the now-breathing child to the professionals. She doesn’t know what happened next. The only update -- a public Facebook post from a woman calling herself Say Love, thanking God for the angels who helped her son during his medical emergency right near the Highway 36 on-ramp.

One of the biggest fans of Laura’s instincts and heroics is her father-in-law, MnDOT F.I.R.S.T. safety responder Don Machacek -- and Don knows something about saving lives. Five years ago, Don rescued a family of 3 as their vehicle sunk in a pond after careening off Interstate 35W.

“All of a sudden, mom starts screaming, ‘I can’t swim,’” he said.

The rescue was captured on freeway cameras, earning him the nickname Angel Don.

“I love my job. I love helping people. Fits me,” he said. “I was doing my job. I love it. Just to get a great thank you. I don’t need the cameras. I just need the thank you.”