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Lawsuit alleges emergency response delay near Glenview
Daughter sues over father's fatal heart attack in forest preserve

Thursday, September 27, 2012
Chicago Tribune
by Brian L. Cox

What started as a relaxed bike ride for Alexis Kaniewski and her father, Bogdan, in a Glenview-area forest preserve in early September ended with him suffering a heart attack and dying in the woods.

Alexis Kaniewski believes her 57-year-old father didn't need to die, but did because it took an ambulance 40 minutes to reach him even though police and her husband arrived within minutes, she said.

She's making that claim in a civil lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court against the Glenview fire and police departments, Cook County and the Cook County Forest Preserve District. She alleges her father died because an ambulance with life-saving equipment was unable to navigate the forest preserve path.

"It's terrible that this has happened, that my father has lost his life," Kaniewski said. "I honestly think that any public path should be accessible. If this ever happens to anyone again, and that's very possible and probable, they're going to need an emergency vehicle."

Kaniewski said she was biking with her father in the Camp Pine Woods forest preserve near Glenview on Sept. 6 when he complained that he was short of breath. They stopped, and within minutes her father collapsed on the path about a mile from the trail entrance south of Euclid Avenue, she said.

Kaniewski said she immediately called 911 and then yelled for help. She said she also called her husband, who arrived in his vehicle within minutes, followed by Glenview police in a squad car shortly afterward.

As a passerby performed CPR, Alexis Kaniewski waited.

"I heard the ambulance, maybe six or seven minutes after I called 911," she said. "I gave explicit directions where I was. But they weren't able to get through."

After about 40 minutes, paramedics ran up the path and started treating her father, who had stopped breathing shortly after he collapsed.

"It was terrible," she said. "He died there."

Eric Patt, Village of Glenview attorney, declined to comment on pending litigation, as did Karen Vaughn, spokesperson for the Forest Preserve District.

Chicago attorney William Delaney, who is representing Alexis Kaniewski, said the lawsuit alleges negligence.

"One of the issues in the case will be the lag time," he said. "The ambulance either didn't know, or didn't plan properly, how to respond to someone on the path."

Kaniewski said she is just hoping to get answers as to why it took so long to get her father life-saving treatment.

"Whose fault is that? I don't know," she said. "Whatever happened, it led to my father dying.

"My father, I think, could have been saved, and they weren't able to get to him. CPR alone wasn't doing it. If they would have gotten there within minutes, it's very possible he would have survived," she said.

The lawsuit seeks in excess of $50,000 in damages.

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