Steve Siegel was expecting a November breakfast at St. George School to kick off an ordinary lazy Sunday.
Little did he know, however, that his actions that morning would lead to him being regarded as a local hero.
Village officials recognized Siegel at their regular board meeting on Tuesday for saving a man's life during the Nov. 6 event, which was held to pay gratitude to the school's volunteers. When friend and fellow diner Rich Clausius made the "universal sign for choking" while eating pancakes, Siegel didn't hesitate to dart to the other side of the table.
"You've never seen a chubby boy spring up so quickly," Siegel said Tuesday, with a hearty laugh. " … I never really looked at it as a heroic thing. It's something I'd do for anybody."
Although Siegel, 47, is a nurse at the University of Chicago, that was his first time administering the Heimlich maneuver, he said. He added that he was "happy to do it." Clausius, 52, said there's no doubt Siegel is the reason he's alive today.
"I really truly thank him," he said during a phone interview Tuesday night. "He saved my life. There was nothing I could do to stop myself from choking."
Siegel's wife, Karen, and their 11-year-old daughter, Cassidy, proudly joined him for his recognition. Mayor Ed Zabrocki applauded Siegel's speedy reaction and willingness to help his fellow man.
"As an appreciative community, we'd like to say thank you very very much," Zabrocki said. " … Many times people will not have that initiative."
Humbled, Siegel cited his nursing background and kindly accepted his award.
"It was really nice of you to do this for me," he said.
Want to "meet" more remarkable people in the Tinley Park community?