Hiatt's 'little' brother provides pre-Rose Bowl heroics

District 6 Engineering Manager Karen Hiatt, is proud of her “little” brother. But in her case, little is relative. Perhaps younger brother is more appropriate.

Mark Asper is a 6-foot-7, 325-pound offensive lineman for the University of Oregon football team that claimed the 2012 Rose Bowl championship this week, beating the University of Wisconsin 45-38. Asper, a graduate of Bonneville High School in Idaho Falls, played a significant part in the Ducks’ first Rose Bowl victory since 1917.

Asper and his fellow linemen cleared the way for Oregon’s explosive offensive backfield that accounted for 356 yards rushing, including touchdown sprints of a Rose Bowl-record 91 yards and 64 yards by freshman De’Anthony Thomas.

The week before, he cleared the way for a total stranger.

Asper’s greatest moment did not come on the green turf in Pasadena, Calif. It came during the team’s visit to Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Beverly Hills for Oregon’s share of the annual “Beef Bowl.”

The burly lineman noticed a fellow diner struggling for breath because food had become stuck in his throat. Although another restaurant patron attempted to perform the Heimlich maneuver, he was unsuccessful. So Asper stepped forward and applied the technique he learned as an Eagle Scout, dislodging the food and possibly saving the man’s life.

Following is a Los Angeles Times account of the incident that was printed in the Idaho Statesman:

‘Oregon lineman, Bonneville High grad saves choking man’

LOS ANGELES – As an offensive lineman for Oregon, Mark Asper usually does his work out of the spotlight.

But the senior from Idaho Falls made a huge pre-Rose Bowl play Wednesday night during the Ducks’ trip to Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Beverly Hills for their turn at the annual ‘Beef bowl.”

During the meal, Asper said he noticed a commotion at a table near his. A man, he said, “was giving the universal ‘Help me, I’m choking’ signal.”

The 6-foot-7, 325-pound Asper said another man attempted to perform the Heimlich maneuver but was unsuccessful.

“I stood up and patted him on the back and said, ‘If you don’t know what you’re doing, I do, because I’m an Eagle Scout,’ ” Asper said. “So I ripped in there.”

The man he assisted, Paul Diamond of Los Angeles, is the father of an Oregon student.

Asper, who had never performed the maneuver in a real situation, said he felt compelled to act.

“They’d take away my merit badges and my Eagle Scout card, you know,” he said. My brother’s a doctor, so I joke I should be in the medical field anyway.”

Published 1-6-2012