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Woman has near-death experience: 'Every morning I wake up thanking God Tracy was there'

"I didn't even think a second; as soon as she … I knew she was choking,” says Fred Meyer store manager Tracy Belanger. “I knew I had to do something and it was just a miracle that I was at work that day." (KPIC photo)

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- Most businesses require at least one person on board to have first aid certification and renew it every two years.

For one Roseburg woman, that requirement saved her life.

You might not expect to have a near-death experience in the grocery store, a place often thought of as mundane and routine.

But Nancy Strand of Roseburg did.

It turned into a shopping trip she'll never forget. It's where, she says, an angel was watching over her.

"Every morning I wake up thanking God Tracy was there, because I'm waking up every morning," Strand says.

Nancy, a 74-year-old diabetic, felt her blood sugar was low and went to have a snack after checking out.

"It just lodged right in my throat; it was peanut butter," Strand says with a laugh. "I really didn't want to have to say, but yeah, it was peanut butter."

"I didn't even think a second; as soon as she I knew she was choking," says Fred Meyer store manager Tracy Belanger. "I knew I had to do something and it was just a miracle that I was at work that day."

"I was trying very hard to get a few breaths through my nose so that I would at least keep breathing a little bit, and I can't really say I was scared because I think I was kind of in shock by then," Strand says.

That's when Belanger sprang into action.

"It was like it was just natural," Belanger says. "Everything went perfect. I knew where to put my feet. I knew where to put my hand. At first I didn't do it as hard and it took me four tries because I did it a little softer, a little harder, a little harder, a little harder until it finally dislodged."

Tracy's heroic actions earned him the Lifesaver Award from the Roseburg Fire Department.

As for Nancy, she's taking a different approach to peanut butter these days.

"Very small amounts," she says. "Small bites and chew it very well."

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