Zak Kissire discovered a decision to stop and buy an energy drink on the way to work can turn into a life-changing event.
It was Oct. 1, 2010 and the 24-year-old Kissire was heading to work in Fife driving on State Route 599 in Tukwila.
He had relocated in Western Washington about a year earlier, moving from Spokane.
A man riding a motorcycle was behind Kissire when a woman suddenly came up on his left side driving erratically.
“She got into the right lane and swerved onto the shoulder,” he said.
The woman suddenly slowed and fell back, then sped back up and tried to pass Kissire again.
“She was all over the road,” he said. “You could tell something was going on. She got back into the left lane and she slowed down dramatically. The bike was still behind me.”
Kissire said he could see in his rearview mirror she dropped back five or six car lengths and was in the left lane.
“Then she shot all the way to the right and I saw the car flip upside down and disappear down the ravine.”
Kissire stopped and ran back to the guard rail where she disappeared while calling 911. Since he had just moved from Spokane, he didn’t know exactly where he was on the highway.
He headed down the ravine, throwing his cell phone to the motorcycle rider who came to assist.
Once Kissire reached the car he could see the woman was in trouble.
“By the time I got to the car it was underwater,” Kissire said
He jumped into the water and got into the backseat of the car.
“I was upside down and I could hear her gurgling,” he said.
He couldn’t move the seat because the electric button malfunctioned. He tried to hold her head out of the water, but the seat belt blocked him.
He finally was able to pop the seat belt.
“She fell into the water and finally I got her out,” Kissire said.
Once out of the car and water, she coughed and began to speak.
“She said, ‘diabetic, diabetic,’” Kissire said. “I ran back to my car and grabbed the energy drink I bought that morning. It was the only sugar I had.”
He sped back and gave her the energy drink.
In about five minutes Kissire said the woman began making more sense.
“Once she came to and realized what happened, she began freaking out,” he said.
Kissire said he knew how to treat her diabetes because his father suffers from the illness.
“If I wouldn’t have stopped at the gas station that morning, I wouldn’t have seen her,” he said. “Everything had to happen in the right order for it to work out.”
The city of Tukwila and the Tukwila Fire Department awarded Kissire a Distinguished Public Service Award.
The award was presented to Kissire by Fire Chief Nick Olivas May 2.
In the citation for the award it stated if Kissire had not come to the woman’s aid she “probably would have died.”