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12-year-old accepts award for saving fellow student’s life: North Dakota Peace Officers honor Taylor-Richardton Elementary sixth grader

Press Photo by Katherine Grandstrand Taylor-Richardton Elementary student Eden Bartz accepts the North Dakota Peace Officers Association Lifesaving Award Friday for saving a fellow student with the Heimlich maneuver.

TAYLOR — Eden Bartz favorite superhero is Batman, who saves the day by beating up bad guys and leaves them for the police.

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But in February the 12-year-old saved the day by performing the Heimlich maneuver on a younger schoolmate, becoming a hero in her own right. She was presented with the North Dakota Peace Officers Association Lifesaving Award for her quick thinking on Friday.

At the end of a school assembly at the end of the school day, Dickinson Police Detective Terry Oestreich and Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department Maj. Kelly Leben presented Eden with the award in front of the Taylor-Richardton Elementary student body, who had no idea what the special award could be.

“I didn’t want to tell anybody,” said Eden, who her father, Rob Bartz, describes as shy.

In early February, Eden was the volunteer at lunch, passing out milks, when she noticed first-grader Blaze Lee choking on corn. She whipped into action, remembering the Heimlich from a story her dad had told a few years ago.

“Because of her quick wit, instinctive reaction and caring for a fellow student, Eden was able to quickly and properly react to prevent a first-grade boy from choking, thereby saving his life,” Leben said. “I want to say congratulations to Eden, but also her father for taking the time to show something important as that.”

The assembly erupted in applause and gave Eden a standing ovation.

Rob didn’t know the story stuck that well.

“It’s amazing what children retain,” Rob said. “I just thought I was telling a funny story about it, I was choking once, and she just asked what the Heilich was, so I showed her.”

Eden is the oldest of four -- she has two younger sisters, Ava and Harper, and a younger brother, Robby.

Eden was quiet about the incident. Her teacher was the one to notify her parents, Rob and Amber. Eventually word got to Oestreich, who was impressed and nominated her for the award.

“Today is very special because in law enforcement so often we deal with people in a negative way,” Oestreich told the assembly. “Being able to recognize a young lady today for doing an exceptional act is really special for me. It’s really special to be able to do that.”

His Burleigh County colleague agreed.

“It’s an honor for us to come out and do this because so many times we see the bad side of society,” Leben said. “It’s good to see not only the award we’re giving now, but also the students of the month award that were given out.”

April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.