Firefighters from SKFR train for the rescue swimmers team at local lakes, such as Steel Lake in Federal Way. Courtesy photo

Firefighters from SKFR train for the rescue swimmers team at local lakes, such as Steel Lake in Federal Way. Courtesy photo

Woman drives car into Puget Sound at Redondo Beach

Victim taken to Harborview Medical Center after SKFR rescue swimmers team retrieve her from waters.

South King Fire and Rescue’s rescue swimmers team took action Sunday evening when a woman drove her car into Puget Sound via the Redondo Beach boat launch around 7:30 p.m.

The driver was reported to have parked her car on the boat ramp and after a period of time, rolled down her window and drove into the Sound, according to Capt. Jeff Bellinghausen, community affairs officer for South King Fire and Rescue.

SKFR, along with other nearby agencies — including the Des Moines Police Department, King County Medic, and dive teams from Renton and Valley fire departments — responded to the incident, with the rescue swimmer team among the first to arrive on scene. Within minutes of receiving the initial call, a SKFR rescue swimmer was in the water and assisted a civilian and police officer back to shore, who had attempted to swim out to the vehicle about 150 feet offshore, Bellinghausen said.

The rescue swimmer then returned to the waters and located the vehicle, which was found upside down. With the aid of a second rescue swimmer, they pulled the unconscious unresponsive female driver to the surface, Bellinghausen said.

CPR was initiated and with the aid of King County Medic One paramedics she was resuscitated. The patient was transferred to Harborview Medical Center and no further updates on her condition have been released.

A scuba dive team from Renton fire assisted with hooking a tow cable to the car to remove the vehicle from the Sound.

“We saw the need because there’s so many bodies of water here in Federal Way, and of course, we have some of the Puget Sound,” said Captain Dave Michaels, head of the rescue swimmers team and has 26 years of service with SKFR.

Nearly a decade ago, firefighter Travis McKinney started the rescue swimmer team for South King, modeled after West Pierce’s special operations program. Today, the 21-person team responds to about 10 calls a year on average.

“We try to rotate which lakes we’re using for training. We focus on the high-frequency lakes such as Steel Lake or Five Mile Lake because that’s where most of our incidents seem to happen,” he said.

Although peak summer days for swimming are months away, it’s important to remember to properly use a lifejacket if needed and avoid swimming alone, Michaels said.

“The biggest thing that I would like to get out there as a message is if [you] see someone who is in trouble or are with someone who is in trouble, don’t wait to call us,” he said.

Time is valuable in every emergency, he said.

“Make the call first,” he said. “Because time is working against us when it comes to people underwater. The sooner we can get there and start searching, the more likely we can have a positive outcome.”

More in News

Serving country, serving community

Federal Way veterans, active military talk sacrifices, community service

Federal Way veteran turns 100 on centennial of WWI ending

Man recalls life, Air Force pilot experience

Federal Way Farmers Market co-founder creates community gathering place

Rose Ehl is Mirror’s Citizen of the Month for October.

Former Federal Way basketball player facing voyeurism charges

Detectives filed the case with the King County Prosecutors Office on Friday.

Federal Way police nab armed robbery suspect

A trio of suspects robbed Safeway and fled on foot.

Crime, unsupportive city drives thrift shop out of Federal Way

The Hoarder’s Attic Thrift Shop is moving to Tacoma after lack of police, city response, owners said.

HUD concerned Federal Way has not met requirements for PAEC loan

Housing and Urban Development says city has not met job growth goals since the PAEC has opened.

The team that advocated for I-1631 at downtown Seattle’s Arctic Club on Nov. 6, 2018. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Washington rejects carbon fee

I-1631 campaign organizers say they will continue pushing for a cleaner future.

The race for Washington’s 9th Congressional District is between two Democrats, incumbent Adam Smith (left) and political newcomer Sarah Smith. File photo
Congressman Adam Smith leads re-election bid for WA’s 9th District

The district spans from Bellevue and south Seattle down through Renton, Tukwila, Kent, Federal Way and Tacoma

Most Read