Not a run-of-the-mill day for Chicago Police Sgt. Mike Nowacki

Nowacki ran the Hot Chocolate 15k in SWAT gear, revived another runner and proposed to Officer Erin Gubala at the finish line.

SHARE Not a run-of-the-mill day for Chicago Police Sgt. Mike Nowacki
Chicago Police Officer Erin Gubala with SWAT Sgt.  Mike Nowacki got engaged Sunday after Nowacki ran the Hot Chocolate 15k in full gear and reviving another runner.

Chicago Police Officer Erin Gubala with SWAT Sgt. Mike Nowacki got engaged Sunday after Nowacki ran the Hot Chocolate 15k in full gear and reviving another runner.

James Foster / For the Sun-Times

Chicago Police Sgt. Mike Nowacki was a busy guy Sunday.

Not only did he run more than 9 miles in 50 pounds of SWAT team gear, but he also performed CPR to help save the life of a woman who had a heart attack along the race route.

And after that, he proposed to his girlfriend, Chicago Police Officer Erin Gubala.

Gubala, who’s assigned to one of the department’s mobile bike units, was on duty and stationed near the end of the Hot Chocolate 15K. Nowacki, who said his team “is very oriented toward physical fitness,” decided to run the race in his SWAT gear “to make it a little more challenging.”

“My plan was to propose at the finish line,” he said.

But things didn’t go exactly to plan for the 19-year police veteran.

As Nowacki was approaching the finish line, he heard people screaming for medical aid after a woman had collapsed nearby. Nowacki said she suffered a heart attack.

Nowacki and a firefighter from Indiana rendered aid until an ambulance arrived and took the woman to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where she is expected to recover.

With the arrival of EMS, Nowacki still had a race to finish.

“Lo and behold, before I knew it, he was running at me, crossing the finish line. I didn’t even see him,” Gubala said. “And then he got down on one knee. It was just a whirlwind.”

The chances of being so close when the woman needed help were not lost on the sergeant, either.

“It was definitely a serendipitous moment because if I had run a little bit slower or a little bit faster, I would’ve never encountered the young lady,” he said.

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