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Washington state trooper honored for fast action
While working the late shift June 29, Kim Triplett stumbled upon an unusual traffic jam at 4 a.m.: Cars along Interstate 405 in Renton began swerving around a woman lying naked in the HOV lane.
The Washington State Patrol officer then faced one of the biggest challenges in her nearly 20-year career.
Triplett arrived alone at the scene within seconds after a sport-utility vehicle flipped over. No one had called 911 yet. Triplett heard a young passenger screaming — he was trapped under the Ford Explorer through the wing window.
As the man gurgled beneath the vehicle’s weight, Triplett tried to stop traffic and flag down help from other motorists. Drivers yelled and cursed as they maneuvered past the obstacle course in the road, she said.
“It was the first time I felt helpless,” said Triplett, who joined the state patrol in 1989.
Eventually, she stood in front of traffic and forced some drivers to stop. A group of men helped lift the overturned vehicle while another man pulled the young passenger out from the Explorer and over to the road’s shoulder. The passenger, 18, suffered only a few broken ribs after coming within seconds of losing his life, Triplett said. All five passengers in the Ford Explorer survived and were charged with underage alcohol violations, she added.
At its breakfast meeting Aug. 19, the Greater Federal Way Kiwanis Club honored Triplett with an Everyday Hero Award.
“It’s my job,” said Triplett, a Federal Way High School grad, of the incident. She is grateful for the strangers who stopped to help.
Triplett encouraged citizens to not be afraid to help a state trooper in trouble. Troopers can often use assistance, she said, adding that bystanders are protected from any legal liabilities under the state’s Good Samaritan law.
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