Orland Park man recounts accident that could have ended tragically
By Mike Nolan email@example.com September 9, 2013 9:08PM
Bob Gonsur Sr., of Orland Park, stands near photos of his 10 grandchildren. He blacked out at the wheel of his car driving through the intersection of Wolf Road and 143rd Street on July 19. He didn't strike any other vehicles and his car ended up in a field on the west side of Wolf. | Mike Nolan~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 11, 2013 6:02AM
July 19 was miserable, weather-wise — it would hit 97 that day, with humidity that clung to a body like a wet overcoat.
Bob Gonsur Sr. had completed his morning workout at Orland Park’s Sportsplex — he was there four days a week — and then drove to Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, where his parents and his wife’s parents are buried. He’d brought along tools to trim the grass around their graves.
He’d been feeling dizzy at the cemetery, but “blew it off,” and when he was headed home, and stopped for a light at 143rd Street and Wolf Road, his head was reeling. When the light flipped to green “it was like somebody pulled a (window) shade on me,” the Orland Park resident said. “The shade just went down.”
When it came back up again he was in the back of an ambulance, with paramedics holding down his legs and arms.
“I kind of freaked,” he said.
He’d blacked out at the wheel, and his gray Pontiac G6 continued south on Wolf, somehow not colliding with another vehicle and then rolling into a field on the west side of the road. Someone, Gonsur doesn’t know who, called 911, and when firefighters arrived they found the car doors locked and its lone occupant unconscious.
They had to break the car’s rear window to get Gonsur out, but the shattering of the glass didn’t rouse him. Other than that, there wasn’t a scratch or dent to indicate Gonsur went careening off the road.
“I don’t know how fast I was going,” he said.
He said he is “in awe” that he didn’t strike another vehicle, and friends and co-workers say how lucky he is the crash wasn’t more serious.
“Somebody was watching out for me,” Gonsur said. “I’m just glad I’m here.”
Orland Park police came to his house and told their youngest son what had happened, who relayed the news to his mom, who was at work.
“They didn’t know if he was diabetic and had some sort of reaction, or if he’d had a stroke,” Barbara Gonsur said.
Her husband spent five days at Palos Community Hospital, where “I had every test in the book,” he said. No definitive cause of his blackout was determined, and Gonsur said he’s had no episoodes of dizziness since.
The accident left Gonsur with two compressed vertebrae in his back, and he uses a cane to help with his balance. To keep his spine in alignment, he wears a vest resembling what workers who lift heavy loads at a warehouse use, with a thick band around his midsection.
He’s been on leave from his job as a supervisor at Darvin Furniture’s Mokena warehouse. He’s been with the company 13 years, while his wife is a display coordinator, arranging displays of furniture at Darvin’s Orland Park store, and has been with the retailer 20 years.
The 60-year-old Gonsur — he was born on Christmas Day — says he has always been physically active, and he’s frustrated by his body’s limitations as his back is healing.
He’s been back at the Sportsplex, walking the track and “trying to get my endurance up.” At Darvin, while not having to lift any furniture, Gonsur has to be able to get around the 180,000-square-foot warehouse.
“I got to get to where I can walk good enough,” he said.
There are also shooting pains that he tries to will his body to ignore.
“I kind of fudge through the pain,” he said, although there are episodes “where I will get a real sharp pain where your eyeballs light up.”
On the mantel above the fireplace in their townhome are photos of the couple’s 10 grandchildren, and an ultrasound image of the 11th, a girl, who is due to arrive sometime around their 41st wedding anniversary on Nov. 11.
Gonsur’s accident was on a Friday, and a christening took place that Sunday for their youngest granddaughter.
“It could have been a wake,” Bob said somberly.
“But it wasn’t,” his wife quickly added.