North Aurora officer, residents honored for saving man

A police officer, three North Aurora residents and a 911 dispatcher have been honored for saving the life of a man who had a heart attack and crashed into a tree in North Aurora in September.

“I was dead,” said Phil Fleck of Sugar Grove, marveling at the rescue. He still does not recall the heart attack or the crash. All he knows is he was driving, and then he was waking up at Provena Mercy Medical Center in Aurora.

On Monday night he placed the Lifesaving Medal around the neck of North Aurora police officer Ryan McKinness and gave citizen commendations to George Pankow, Gregory Meyers, Molly Lentz and Stephanie Shaffer. The ceremony took place at the North Aurora village board meeting.

“Everybody should be that way,” the 65-year-old said of his quick-thinking helpers.

At 5:35 p.m. Sept. 20 Fleck was driving home. In the 100 block of Pinehill Court, he suffered a heart attack and his car crashed into a tree, appearing to catch on fire, according to North Aurora police.

Residents Pankow, Meyers and Lentz heard the crash and rushed outside to assist. Pankow started cardiopulmonary resuscitation with the help of Meyers, who kept Fleck’s airway open. Lentz called 911 and ran for a fire extinguisher.

Aurora police dispatcher Stephanie Shaffer took the call and gave CPR instructions to Lentz, who relayed them to the other two.

When McKinness arrived, he took over CPR, until the North Aurora Fire Department Medic Engine 505 team arrived and took over. That team also was lauded Monday.

“We’re certainly proud of everyone who is involved. It is great to see citizens of North Aurora responding to an emergency situation,” Village President Dale Berman said.

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