Citizen of the Month’s quick action saves elderly man’s life

FWPD’s Gretchen Sund honored for her concern that saved 94-year-old volunteer’s life.

Gretchen Sund knew something wasn’t right.

A longtime customer service specialist for the Federal Way Police Department who works at the front desk, Sund noticed 94-year-old Bill Morton was late for his shift one morning last November.

While everyone runs late every once in a while, Sund knew this was very out of character for Morton, a longtime volunteer for the department.

“I’ve known Bill for a very long time,” said Sund, who recently received the Police Chief’s Citation for her actions that resulted in saving Morton’s life. The Mirror also recognized her as January’s Citizen of the Month.

Sund knew Morton was always a half hour early for his Monday morning volunteer shift. On that Monday, when 8:15 a.m. rolled around and he still wasn’t there, she knew something was wrong. She tried calling him at home with no answer, and her voicemail box was empty too.

She reached out to Morton’s daughter in Florida to see if she could get a hold of him, but he didn’t answer his daughter’s call either. So Sund decided to let the on-duty lieutenant know what was going on, and some officers were dispatched to conduct a welfare check. They found him lying face down on his living room floor, with a broken hip and a contusion to his head.

Sund said the first officer to arrive on scene was Jonathan Jimenez, who saw Morton’s foot sticking out behind some furniture from his living room window. She said everyone in the office could hear Jimenez on scene through the radio, and hearing him call for medical assistance was a scary moment.

Sund teared up recalling hearing those calls over the radio and not knowing if Morton was OK.

“I was pretty scared.”

Then Jimenez ran around to the back of the house and pounded on the window, to Morton’s reply of, “I need help,” Sund said.

Morton had apparently fallen the night before and wasn’t able to get to a working phone to call for help.

“I was so relieved I had trusted my instincts,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I blew it off … something could have happened, he’s 94 years old.”

Sund said she was just grateful she was able to help out an old friend.

“I didn’t feel like I did anything that heroic, I just trusted my instincts and acted on it.”

She’s thankful the end result was a happy one.

Commander Kurt Schwan had nothing but good things to say about Sund.

“She’s loyal, caring, compassionate,” he said.

Commander Chris Norman, who nominated Sund for the police award, had similar thoughts about her. He said they receive a lot of good feedback about her from people in the community.

“She’s very willing to help others,” he said.

Sund said she enjoys the work she gets to do for the department, and that’s why she’s been there for 20 years.

“I like meeting people, I like helping people at the front counter,” she said. “I just enjoy the interaction and trying to help people in the city.”

Her career in law enforcement didn’t start how you might think, though.

At about 30 years old, Sund, after being a stay-at-home mom, wanted to get back into the workforce.

Alongside her part-time job with the city’s Parks and Recreation department she started in 1993 as a facility supervisor, she also started by volunteering with the department, and was part of the first-ever volunteer team to work for FWPD after the department was created in 1996.

Her volunteer work started with fingerprinting, and she was also involved with a Victim Assistance Program until she applied for and was hired on to a paid position.

Sund said her volunteer work for the Victim Assistance Program allowed her to connect with people involved in traumatic situations, such as rape victims, parents of infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or those who found a family member dead in their homes. She said volunteers in that program were trained to help provide support and resources to those undergoing a traumatic situation like these.