Suburban Hero: Grayslake man braves dog attack to save choking woman

  • Grayslake resident Griffin Rebecca saved a stranger from choking earlier this month, all while being attacked by a dog.

    Grayslake resident Griffin Rebecca saved a stranger from choking earlier this month, all while being attacked by a dog. Courtesy of Lake County sheriff's office

Updated 2/28/2021 10:15 AM

A good Samaritan from Grayslake is being hailed as a hero for saving a choking stranger near Gurnee, all while fending off an attacking dog.

Griffin Rebecca's actions on Feb. 6 garnered praise from Lake County Sheriff John D. Idleburg and others.


"One of the things I admire most about the people of Lake County is their willingness to help others in need," Idleburg said. "Mr. Rebecca is yet another outstanding example of the adage 'not all heroes wear capes.'"

Rebecca, 30, was driving east on Route 120 near Mill Road when he saw a car on the side of the road and a woman standing nearby who was having some sort of emergency.

"This poor woman had no jacket on in extremely cold weather, and I could tell she was in trouble by her body language," Rebecca recalled. "She threw her scarf down on the road, and I realized right then, something's not right."

Rebecca stopped and discovered the woman, a 42-year-old Oklahoma resident, was choking and couldn't breathe.

Rebecca began performing the Heimlich maneuver to clear the woman's airway. He continued the technique's abdominal thrusts even as a large dog that had been inside the car attacked him and bit his legs.

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"I think with all the adrenaline, I hadn't noticed the dog and was just solely focused on helping the woman," Rebecca said.

The obstruction, which appeared to be a piece of food, eventually broke free and the woman resumed breathing.

Shortly after, a sheriff's deputy stopped to check on the situation, and paramedics arrived, too. The woman declined a trip to a hospital.

Rebecca "undoubtedly" saved the woman's life, Lake County sheriff's Lt. Christopher Covelli said.

"Jumping into action and performing the Heimlich maneuver on a complete stranger, while being attacked by a dog, as Griffin did is nothing short of brave and heroic," Covelli said.

Despite the kudos he's received from family, friends and the Lake County community, Rebecca doesn't consider himself a hero.

"I just believe I was positioned in the right place at the right time to help and was happy to do so," he said.

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