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Wash. trooper saves man in submerged car

Washington State Patrol trooper Jay Farmer and a former firefighter worked together to rescue the motorist

By Brandi Jewett
Grand Forks Herald

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — A former Grand Forks man, with assistance from a passing motorist, saved a driver from a submerged car Saturday morning near Ellensburg, Wash.

The rescue was all part of the job for Washington State Patrol trooper Jay Farmer, a 1999 Grand Forks Central High graduate who left Grand Forks to join the patrol in 2007.

"I was dispatched to the scene. I was supposed to be there." Farmer said Monday. "That guy went above and beyond. He had already jumped in the water once by the time I got there. He found it in his heart to help a complete stranger."

The man Farmer refers to is Jim Kocker of Poulsbo, Wash. — a former firefighter and lifeguard.

Kocker, 53, was the first to try and free 30-year-old Anthony Johnson of Seattle from his car, which had left the road and ended up in a pond about 3 miles west of Ellensburg on Interstate 90 in central Washington.

Johnson lost control of his car when a medical condition caused him to swerve, overcorrect and leave the road, according to a report from the state patrol. His vehicle crashed through a wire fence and came to rest in the water about 50 feet from shore.

Only the roof of the vehicle was visible when Kocker entered the pond. The car's locked doors and windows kept him from being able to get Johnson out, forcing Kocker to swim back to shore.

That's when the state patrol arrived on scene. With the Farmer at his side, Kocker entered the chilly water for a second time and attempted to rescue Johnson.

"He didn't even hesitate," Farmer said of Kocker.

After using a baton to break window, Farmer and Kocker were able to unlock the car, pull Johnson from it and bring him to a waiting ambulance.

Johnson was admitted to an area hospital and released that day.

Copyright 2013 the Grand Forks Herald

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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