Suburban Heroes: Wauconda restaurant manager helped save choking patron

A manager at the Middleton's on Main restaurant in downtown Wauconda, Mark Konicek was busy with his usual duties Dec. 15 when he noticed patron Marge Wilhelm choking on a bite of food.

Konicek walked over, got behind Wilhelm and started performing the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the food in her airway, but it didn't work and she fell unconscious.

"She simply went dead in my arms," recalled Konicek, 55, of Wauconda.

Konicek lowered her to the floor and performed CPR until a police officer and paramedics arrived. The paramedics removed the obstruction with a suction device.

Wilhelm regained consciousness and was taken to a hospital for additional treatment. She made a full recovery, officials said.

Middleton's co-owner Aaron Aggarwal said Konicek didn't hesitate when he saw the customer struggling.

"While others contemplated what should be done, Mark went in to action," Aggarwal said. "He was a true leader that day, and that's the way he is as an employee."

Konicek learned the Heimlich maneuver and CPR as a youth and goes through annual training. He saved someone with the Heimlich once before at a different restaurant but had never put his CPR training to the test until December.

"I did what I had been training my entire life for," he said.

Last month, Konicek received a Life Saving Award from Police Chief David Wermes at a village board meeting.

"If not for the immediate action of Mark Konicek and his willingness to assist a patron in need, this incident may have had a different outcome," Wermes said.

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