ELLENSBURG — A driver on Interstate 90 had a medical problem this weekend and ended up driving into a pond near Ellensburg. His car quickly started sinking. But a passer-by and a Washington State Patrol trooper dove in and saved him.
The state trooper, Jay Farmer, said in Ellensburg Monday that he didn’t have much time to think when he pulled up to the accident scene Saturday morning.
Farmer dove in, along with former lifeguard Jim Kocker of Poulsbo, who had tried to save the driver first after witnessing the crash.
“Typically I wouldn’t ask a civilian to jump in a freezing pond with me, but knowing he had been in there and had tried to get the guy out, he just didn’t have the right tool.”
Farmer had a baton, so he used that to break a window and started feeling around.
“When I went in that back window, I kept my hand on the roof and I could feel the driver’s shoulder.”
When cadets are in the academy, they train for this. But they’re told only to go into the water if they’re strong swimmers and there’s no other option for rescue.
“In this situation with a victim in a vehicle that’s submerged and they can’t fend for themselves, this was the only option,” said Lt. Scott Martin. “Mr. Kocker and trooper Farmer did an extraordinary job of going down, getting that victim out of there.”
“He was very grateful, he said words can’t express what he was feeling, I was just happy to see him smiling.”
He knows that driver might not have survived, if he wasn’t in the right place at the right time.
“The district that I patrol is almost 100 miles long. I just happened to be seven miles away from this. What are the odds?”
But he says he was just doing his job, and that Kocker is the only hero in this case.
“I wish Jim was the only one here talking. He’s the one that stopped that didn’t have to.”
Kocker says he’s glad his lifeguard training was able to come in handy.
The driver who crashed was treated and released from the hospital Saturday.