ELLENSBURG, Wash. — A state trooper and a passing motorist helped save an unconscious driver who drove off Interstate 90 and into a pond where his car sunk, authorities said.
Anthony Scott Johnson, 30, of Seattle suffered a unspecified medical emergency that caused him to drive off the highway about 3 miles west of Ellensburg shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday, according to a news release from the Washington State Patrol.
Several other drivers had stopped at the scene before rescue workers arrived.
Among them was 53-year-old Jim Kocker of Poulsbo and his wife, Laura.
“We figured if there’s nothing else, he could do something,” said Laura Kocker, who described her husband as a former firefighter from Los Angeles who had been a lifeguard as a teenager.
Kocker stripped down to his jeans and T-shirt and swam about 50 feet to the Subaru Impreza, which was submerged to its roof, state Trooper Darren Wright said in another news release.
He couldn’t find a way into the car because the doors were locked and windows up. The inside of the car hadn’t yet filled with water, but the man responded only slightly when Kocker pounded on the window, Laura Kocker said.
Kocker had to return to shore to fight off hypothermia. Then he and Trooper Jay Farmer swam to the car and were able to free the man after Farmer used a baton to break a window.
A waiting ambulance took Johnson to KVH Hospital in Ellensburg. He was treated and released, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Farmer started his State Patrol career in 2008 and was initially assigned to the Yakima area.
“Had it not been for the heroic actions of Trooper Farmer and good Samaritan Jim Kocker, the driver could have surely perished,” Wright wrote in the news release.
Laura Kocker attributed her husband’s experience and quick thinking with helping save the man’s life.
Kocker “smelled like a fish and was all purple,” his wife said. The family was able to get back on the road to see their daughter at Washington State University, where the Cougars played Oregon State University.
“We did make it to Pullman, and we’re very bummed that our team lost,” she said.
Information from the Daily Record and Associated Press is included in this report.