Man rescues errant driver from pond near Naperville
BY BILL BIRD email@example.com December 20, 2012 10:56PM
Felix "Sonny" Kaskie, who works at the Kraft Foods plant on Naperville's west side, helped save a man from possible drowning or serious injury late last week, after a van the man was driving ran off 75th Street and plunged into a retention pond not far from Ranchview Drive. Kaskie, 62, of Orland Park, said the van was quickly submerged in the pond's murky, icy water. | Courtesy of Mondelez Global LLC
Updated: January 22, 2013 6:23AM
The truth of the matter is, Felix “Sonny” Kaskie is a mere mortal, just like the rest of us.
It’s only on that rare occasion that he comes on more like Superman.
The 62-year-old Orland Park resident saved another man’s life — or, at the very least, saved him from serious injury — about a year ago, while they were on a break from their jobs at the Kraft Foods plant on Naperville’s west side.
His friend “was choking on a piece of meat and getting pale, and nobody was doing anything” to help him, Kaskie recalled. “So I gave him kind of a firm hit in the back,” which dislodged the potentially fatal foodstuff.
Kaskie was again in the right place at the right time last week while on his way home from work. He ended up wading into a retention pond and helping a motorist get to shore only moments before the man’s van slipped below the surface of the water.
Naperville Fire Department Bureau Chief Mark Thurow confirmed the incident occurred about 4 p.m. last Friday at 24W080 75th St. The pond is on the north side of 75th Street just west of Palomino Drive, in the unincorporated Burr Oaks-Fairlane Farms area of DuPage County and northeast of Naperville’s University Heights neighborhood.
Thurow said the unidentified driver told firefighters “he swerved off 75th Street and drove into the pond.” Kaskie “saw the accident and stopped to assist, (and) waded out to waist-deep water” to get to the motorist, Thurow said.
The crash site is under the jurisdiction of the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office. A spokeswoman for that agency did not return a telephone message that sought information about the crash.
Kaskie said he was driving east on 75th Street when he saw a fast-moving white van. “Apparently, he jumped the center (median) and went across oncoming traffic and down into a ditch,” Kaskie said of the van’s driver.
“At first I thought he was making a turn off the road, but then he went through a 7-foot cyclone fence,” Kaskie said. “And then I saw a splash of water.”
He brought his vehicle to an abrupt stop, as did two other motorists. “I seen that the van was in the water,” and upon looking into the faces of the others who had stopped, “you could see the panic in their eyes.”
Kaskie said he then waded into dank, icy water that quickly rose nearly to his waist. “I was sinking in the mud,” he recalled.
The driver by that time had managed to roll down his window and was struggling to get out of the van. The man was wearing “bib overalls with the suspenders,” which Kaskie said he grabbed.
Another motorist by then had stopped and come to the pond, “so I said, ‘Hey, give me a hand,’” Kaskie said. He wrapped the van driver in a blanket after the three men had made their way safely to shore.
“When I got there to go in there and get him, (the water) was up to the windshield,” Kaskie said. The van was completely submerged within five minutes, “and you could see just a little bit of the roof and a little part of the window sticking out” above the pond’s surface, he said.
The driver was bleeding from his mouth, an injury Kaskie believes he suffered when the van’s air bag deployed. The man, who appeared to be about 45 or 50 years old, kept repeating, “Just call my boss,” Kaskie said.
Neither the van driver nor Kaskie suffered serious injuries, although the other man was taken to the emergency room of Edward Hospital in Naperville for treatment and observation.
Kaskie chuckled softly while conceding he ruined the shoes he wore during the rescue, saying it was a negligible price to pay.
“I just knew somebody needed help,” he said. “And I wanted to help.”