3 Who Helped Save Man During Heart Attack Honored by Park Board

When a Deer Creek Court member fell unconscious, the three administered CPR until paramedics arrived

Leslie Koch, Gilles Gabriel, Vicki Sokol,  and Chris Wilsman. Courtesy of the Park District of Highland Park
Leslie Koch, Gilles Gabriel, Vicki Sokol, and Chris Wilsman. Courtesy of the Park District of Highland Park
The following is from the Park District of Highland Park:

There wasn’t a dry eye in the board room at West Ridge Center on May 29 as the Park Board of Commissioners recognized two Deer Creek Courts staff members and a tennis club member for their heroic administration of CPR at the tennis facility in January. Board President Scott Meyers presented official resolutions to Deer Creek Courts Manager Chris Wilsman, former front desk attendant Leslie Koch, and Northbrook resident and tennis club member Vicky Sokol. Gilles Gabriel, the grateful and fully recovered cardiac arrest victim, was in attendance along with his wife Laura and three young children.

Following the presentation of the resolutions, Gilles Gabriel personally thanked his rescuers and the Park Board for honoring them noting that he contributes each new day to their efforts. Wife Laura gave each resolution recipient a tearful hug of thanks. 

“This was a very traumatic thing,” declared Laura. “You didn’t just save Gilles’ life that day, you gave me my husband and my children their father, and we will forever be grateful.”

On January 14, Gabriel, a Highland Park resident and Deer Creek Courts tennis club member, fell unconscious on the courts prior to beginning his routine 4.5 Drill & Play. Vicky Sokol, a fellow tennis member and practicing nurse, shouted a call for help and immediately checked for pulse and breathing. Finding neither, she began chest compressions. Park District employees Chris Wilsman and Leslie Koch, hearing the shout, called 911, secured the AED, and joined the rescue in progress. Wilsman began rescue breathing. Koch prepared the AED, and upon instruction, took over compressions when Sokol became exhausted. The three worked together to administer CPR until paramedics arrived and transported Gabriel to Highland Park hospital.

“One of the things we talk about at the end of the day is that the Park District is only as strong as the people who make it up, and to have the opportunity to see this in real life and realize the impact it has on members of the community is very poignant,” stated Park Board President Scott Meyers. “We couldn’t be more proud of the heroic actions taken by Vicki, Leslie, and Chris, nor more pleased with the positive outcome.” 


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