Flashlights – they still make them like they used to. And that’s a good thing, too, because in this particular case, flashlights did more than provide illumination, they helped save a man’s life.
Just after midnight on Monday morning, East Precinct officers responded to a call of a car that had driven into Lake Washington. The caller advised that they could see the car lights on and that it was floating. A short time later SPD 911 updated the officers that the complainant could see someone in the vehicle but could not tell if they were moving or not.
Officers Flick and Giese responded to the call along with several other officers. Officer Giese arrived along with Seattle Fire. They located the car and saw that it was sinking about 50 feet away from the embankment. They could hear a person inside the vehicle yelling and banging on the windows. Officer Flick arrived at this time. Officer Giese saw that the car was sinking and that the person inside was trapped. He removed his gun belt and went into the water towards the car accompanied by a Seattle Fire Fighter. Officer Flick removed her gun belt and entered the water as well. It should be noted that the temperature was around 50 degrees and the area the car was sinking in was not well lighted.
Officer Giese went to the passenger side of the car and tried to open one of the doors. Due to the water pressure he was unable to open it. He could see the car was filling up with water and the person inside banging on the windows. Officer Giese broke the passenger side door window out with his flashlight. He was then able to reach inside and pull the victim out of the car. Officer Giese and the Seattle Fire Fighter pulled the victim to shore.
While Officer Giese was at the passenger side, Officer Flick had moved to the driver’s side. She could also hear and see the victim inside. The car was sinking and the water was murky so they could not tell if anyone else was inside. Officer Flick broke out the driver’s side window with her flashlight. She then reached in and felt for any other persons who might be trapped inside. She was doing this as the car began to sink.
The car then sank to a point where the officers could no longer see inside. Officers Flick and Giese then got out of the water. Harbor responded and checked the vehicle for other victims but did not locate any. The victim that had been removed from the car was transported to Harborview Medical Center (HMC).
At HMC the victim stated that he was trapped in the car and could not get out. He believed that he was going to die because he could not get out of the car. He said that the officers saved his life.
Officer Dale Giese and Officer Vanessa Flick’s superviser, Sergeant Marc Garth-Green commended them for their heroic actions. “They disregarded their personal safety in order to save the life of the victim,” said Sergeant Garth Green. “There is no doubt that if it had not been for their selfless quick actions the victim would have died.”