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updated: 4/21/2014 12:51 PM

Witnesses, police help save Mount Prospect man after heart attack

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  • A group of witnesses and emergency responders resuscitated Mount Prospect resident Jim Maglieri, third from left, after he suffered a heart attack on March 20.

    A group of witnesses and emergency responders resuscitated Mount Prospect resident Jim Maglieri, third from left, after he suffered a heart attack on March 20.
    Courtesy of the Maglieri Family


When Jim Maglieri of Mount Prospect gives a speech at his daughter's wedding next month, he's likely to talk about how close he came to missing it.

Maglieri, 56, suffered a heart attack March 20 while behind the wheel of his car. After crashing near the intersection of Talcott Road and Devon Avenue in Park Ridge, he was pulled from the car, unconscious and without a pulse, family members say.

But fast work by a group of witnesses and emergency responders revived Maglieri. He was transported to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where he eventually had open-heart surgery.

All of which means that, barring any complications, he'll be there in May to see his daughter get married.

"They saved his life. It feels like a miracle," said Rose Umana, Maglieri's sister-in-law. "All those people who helped are angels."

The people who came to Maglieri's aid on March 20 will be honored at a future Park Ridge City Council meeting, city officials said. And they've all been invited to his daughter's wedding, said Maglieri's wife, Vita.

"They deserve to go, since he probably wouldn't be there himself if it weren't for what they did," she said. "He plans to mention them in his speech."

Vita Maglieri was working on the afternoon of March 20 when she received a call from the emergency room at Lutheran General. The hospital informed her that her husband had been in an accident and was being treated there.

When Vita arrived at the hospital, she was greeted by a hospital chaplain.

"My heart sank then," she said. "I figured we'd lost him."

Soon, though, Vita learned that her husband was still alive, and that the dramatic actions of a number of strangers had saved him.

According to Park Ridge police, a witness named Richard Rajnoha tried to remove Maglieri from his car after the crash. Unable to get the doors open, Rajnoha retrieved a hammer from his own car and used to it to smash in a window on Maglieri's vehicle.

Another witness, Izabela Siegien, performed chest compressions on Maglieri, police said. Firdous Afreen, meanwhile, got local emergency responders involved by calling 911. And Scott Troogstad, an off-duty member of the Chicago Fire Department, lent his expertise to the lifesaving efforts, police said.

"It's pretty remarkable how many people rushed in to help," Park Ridge Deputy Police Chief Lou Jogmen said.

Park Ridge police Officers Robert Evans and Michael Luehr responded to the scene. They helped revive Maglieri by using an automated external defibrillator that was in Luehr's squad car.

"We weren't expecting that kind of emergency when we responded," Evans said. "The original call was for a roadway disturbance, so I was geared up for a road-rage thing. We had to get up to speed very quickly.

"Having the (defibrillator) really helped. In those kinds of situations, every second counts."

The combined efforts worked. Maglieri was revived and brought to the hospital. A week later, he had successful open-heart surgery. He's now at home, recovering, Vita Maglieri said.

"It's been an emotional few weeks," she said.

Vita said it's hard to describe how grateful she and her children, John and Lana, are for the actions of those at the scene of the accident.

"I can't wait to meet them at the meeting in Park Ridge," she said. "My kids and I feel so blessed that those people were there. I hope we'll see some of them at the wedding, too."

Evans said he, for one, plans to attend.

"It's an amazing feeling to have helped even in a small way with something like this," he said. "I went to the hospital to give the family the paperwork from the accident, and I got so many hugs and thank-yous."

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