Cory Wohlenberg, 14, with Superintendent Ed Ehmann, was given a...

Cory Wohlenberg, 14, with Superintendent Ed Ehmann, was given a Good Samaritan award by the Smithtown Central School District Tuesday after he successfully performed the Heimlich maneuver on a fellow classmate who was choking on a taco at lunchtime, saving his friend's life. (May 9, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Danielle Finkelstein

Cory Wohlenberg doesn't talk much.

Instead, he observes.

He notices what others don't.

And that's lucky for his friend, a fellow freshman at Smithtown High School East.

Wohlenberg saved the boy's life last month when he began to choke on a taco, school officials said.

The teens -- both 14 -- were sitting across the table from one another at school when Wohlenberg noticed his friend Yanni Megaris was struggling for air.

"I ran up behind him and did the Heimlich maneuver," he said. "I learned it from Boy Scouts."

Wohlenberg was given a Good Samaritan award from Smithtown Central School District earlier this week.

His mom, Karen Wohlenberg, heard of his heroism on April 26, the day the incident happened. School officials called her at home to congratulate her for her son's actions.

It's a good thing, she said. Her son is so tight-lipped and modest he might never have told her on his own. His mom calls him shy, considerate and organized.

"He pays attention," she said. "He listens."

Cory Wohlenberg, of St. James, is the youngest of three and he has learned to fend for himself, his mother said. While his siblings would cry out for breakfast in the morning, he'd quietly climb the counter top and grab a cereal box himself. He'd be halfway done with his meal while the other kids were still carping.

"He's like MacGyver," his mother said. "He's resourceful."

School officials praised Wohlenberg for acting so quickly. "We're very proud of what he did," Assistant Principal Jason Pettis said. "He is one of those kids who is unassuming and just did a good deed. He is very humble. He didn't make a big deal about it."

As for Wohlenberg, he said he'll remember the incident for the rest of his life.

And so will his friend.

"He thanked me and his parents called to thank me as well," Wohlenberg said.

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