2011-02-25 / Neighbors

Ranger, rescued woman meet

Simi diner thanks man who saved her life
By Carissa Marsh


HONORING A HERO—Park Ranger Jim Rosales, second from right, of the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District receives recognition Feb. 17 for saving the life of Lenni Miller, second from left, during a Dec. 29 encounter at Red’s Barbecue in Simi Valley. Also taking part in the presentation were Miller’s husband, Fred, left, and RSRPD Board Chair Gene Hostetler. 
COLLEEN JANSSEN/Special to the Acorn HONORING A HERO—Park Ranger Jim Rosales, second from right, of the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District receives recognition Feb. 17 for saving the life of Lenni Miller, second from left, during a Dec. 29 encounter at Red’s Barbecue in Simi Valley. Also taking part in the presentation were Miller’s husband, Fred, left, and RSRPD Board Chair Gene Hostetler. COLLEEN JANSSEN/Special to the Acorn Last month, Simi Valley resident Tresa Kassan was reading her weekly community newspaper when she came across a story that sounded eerily familiar.

The article described the heroic efforts of a Rancho Simi Park and Recreation District ranger named Jim Rosales who, while out celebrating the retirement of a fellow ranger on Dec. 29, saved the life of a choking diner at Red’s Barbecue.

After reading the article, Kassan immediately called her parents in Winnetka.

“(Tresa’s) the one who called us and she said, ‘Mom, you’re in the paper,’” recalled Lenni Miller.

Lenni and her husband, Fred, checked out the story online and were amazed by what they read (“Local hero: Park ranger rescues choking woman,” Jan. 28 Simi Valley Acorn).

“I didn’t know how bad it was until I read the article,” Fred said. “And I was there.”

Lenni agreed.

“We didn’t even know how serious it was,” she said. “The paramedics told me I was close to what they call ‘clinical death.’”

That December night, the 64-year-old had taken her first bite of dinner when she began choking on a piece of meat. She remembers someone coming up behind her to help, but after that, she passed out. When she woke later in the hospital, she didn’t know who her lifesaver was.

But after reading the story, she had a name. And Ranger Rosales, who had simply returned to his dinner party after the rescue, was interested in finding out who she was, too.

Fred Miller called Larry Peterson, general manager of the park district, to see about meeting the man who saved his wife’s life. Peterson told him Rosales was going to be honored for his efforts at the Feb. 17 park district board meeting and invited the Millers to attend as a surprise.

It was then that Lenni was able to hug her “forever hero.” As Rosales accepted his Above and Beyond certificate, Lenni was called from the audience and the two instantly embraced.

“Thank you so much,” Lenni said into Rosales’ ear, tears welling in her eyes. “I don’t know how to thank you. I’m glad you knew what you were doing.”

“I’ve never been in that position,” she continued. “I’ve never had that happen to me, but I’m so glad you were there.”

“I’m really happy we found you,” Rosales replied.

While she did suffer from post-traumatic stress after the incident, knowing how close she came to dying and realizing how quickly a life can end, Lenni is doing fine physically.

She is a bit put off by steak at the moment, joking that she’s moved on to fish. But above all, she and her husband feel grateful that Rosales, a retired LAPD officer who is trained in CPR and first aid, was at the restaurant that night.

“It’s an experience I don’t ever want to go through again, but I’m thankful I’m alive,” Lenni said.

Though she knows she can’t repay Rosales for what he did, Lenni felt she had to do something to show her gratitude. So she got him a gift certificate to—where else?—Red’s.

“I wrote (on the card), ‘Have dinner on us, without interruptions,’” she said with a smile.

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