Acting on impulse is often what makes someone a hero and that is certainly the case for two Lake Stevens residents who were recognized by the Snohomish County Chapter of the American Red Cross on Dec. 8 at their annual Real Heroes Breakfast at the Tulalip Resort Casino Orca Ballroom.
Dale Aschenbrenner and Joanne VanLeuven have different stories yet each acted on instinct and did what many wouldn’t think of doing.
Aschenbrenner, a water inspector for Snohomish County PUD #1, was on his way to his first appointment on Friday, August 12. It was a very foggy morning as Aschenbrenner was driving north on Hwy. 9 when he glanced over and saw taillights coming out from what appeared to be a large swamp off the side of the road.
He turned the PUD vehicle around and upon a closer look saw a car sinking in the middle of the swampy pond. He then heard a woman screaming, “help me” as she was waving her hand out the window, “I can’t swim!”
Aschenbrenner jumped into action immediately calling 911, flagged down the next passing car for assistance and then quickly got a tow rope from his vehicle and headed into the muddy waters. By this time, the vehicle was rapidly sinking and the woman still trapped inside was frantically screaming.
Just as Aschenbrenner pulled her out through the window, her car slid completely under water. He carried her to safety up the hill and out of the muddy water. Another passer-by handed them a blanket which Aschenbrenner wrapped around the woman and then placed her inside his vehicle until rescue crews arrived.
VanLeuven resides in Lake Stevens and owns Kidzie B Kids Day Care in Arlington. This is where a robber took advantage of a situation but soon learned that this tough grandma wasn’t going to let him get away with his actions.
On April 27, the thief watched as VanLeuven got out of her car, arms filled with hula hoops, jump ropes and a box of flowerpots for her day-care kids to make Mother’s Day gifts. What she didn’t take was her green purse.
So with her arms occupied and her head turned, the thief took advantage and snatched her purse from the car. He didn’t count on VanLeuven chasing after him.
A co-worker called 911 as she followed in pursuit. She hoofed it down a dirt trail that cuts through some woods and followed him into a motel parking lot. He disappeared around a corner and slipped into one of the upstairs units. VanLeuven waited for Arlington police to arrive and based on the information she supplied, they were able to retrieve several purses and arrest the snatcher who was recently released from the Snohomish County Jail as well as another man in the same motel room who was wanted on other warrants.
She knows child-care centers are a popular target of thieves who prey on parents’ preoccupation with their children’s needs. In the back of her mind that day were hard-working moms whose purses have been stolen in the seconds it takes to drop off a child a few feet from their cars.
Bekah Staudacher and Benjamin (Ben) King, Snohomish High School students,
Snohomish Fire & Rescue
Providence Trauma Team: Dr. Bill Finley, Dr. Joe Austin and Dr. Kimberly Costas
Heroic Action took place at Snohomish High School in SNOHOMISH on 10/24/2011
Contact: Snohomish Fire & Rescue 425-471-2117 Providence Trauma Team 425-304-0591
Cheryl Weiland (mother of Bekah) at 817-901-0090
Susan Cooley King (mother of Ben King) at 425-327-8259
Benjamin King & Bekah Staudacher
It was a typical Monday morning at Snohomish High School as best friends, Bekah Staudacher and April Lutz were putting on makeup in the girl’s bathroom. Minutes before class was to start a fellow 10th grade student randomly attacked the two girls with an 8-inch butcher like knife. April was stabbed over a dozen times piercing her heart and lung. Bekah suffered a gash to her arm. Although injured herself Bekah ran outside the bathroom to summon help before returning to the bathroom to try and stop the assault. In the meantime, classmate Benjamin King heard the screams and ran inside the bathroom to see April covered in blood slumped on the floor. He held her in his arms and pressed paper towels to her wounds until paramedics arrived. Without the quick actions and bravery of both Bekah and Benjamin putting themselves in harm’s way, the remarkable outcome for April might not have been so positive.
Snohomish Fire & Rescue
Snohomish firefighters who first responded to the scene at Snohomish High School that day were a critical part in the chain of events that led to April Lutz’s amazing survival. They had April in the emergency room 24 minutes after they reached her, bleeding on the bathroom floor. They made the life saving decision to call off a helicopter that would have carried her to Harborview Medical Center, the region’s trauma hospital. Snohomish paramedics decided the 14-year old was too hurt to wait or make the helicopter flight to Seattle. Instead, they began racing toward Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. Paramedics worked to keep the girl’s heart beating as they headed across the U.S. 2 trestle into Everett. They knew only surgeons could save her. “She had an angel sitting on her shoulder guiding her, and us, through this whole thing,” Snohomish Fire Capt. Jason Leighty said. “It was an amazing outcome given the horrible circumstances she found herself in that bathroom that morning.”
Providence Trauma Team (Dr. Bill Finley, Dr. Joe Austin and Dr. Kimberly Costas)
A fraction of inch and the amazing work of the team of trauma doctors at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett made the difference between life and death for April, the 14-year-old girl who was stabbed in an unprovoked, random attack at Snohomish High School. The Providence Trauma Team went above and beyond to save the Snohomish teen-ager who sustained at least 10 separate stab wounds. One of them - near her heart - came close to being fatal. April’s heart stopped a total of three times. If the injury had been just four millimeters more to the right or left and April almost certainly would have died at the scene. Just a little more pressure behind the thrust and she likely would have bled to death before the damage could be repaired. April’s chest had filled with blood - and she had only a 20 percent chance of surviving when she was wheeled into the emergency room. Upon arrival, doctors determined there wasn’t time to prep April for the operating room, they had to open up her chest and immediately relieve pressure from the blood that was squeezing around her heart. At one point doctors put their hands into a wound in April’s heart to stanch the bleeding as other doctors worked to stabilize her. In all, six Providence doctors operated on April. The Providence medical team never gave up and with April’s own incredible will to survive and she was able to beat all odds and survive!