SNOHOMISH, Wash. -- Luck can be a pretty strange thing.
Rachael Boehme doesn’t consider herself lucky; just human.
Her travels the past two Christmases have taken her to destinations near and far, but unlike most other people, they’ve also taken her on life-saving missions -- not once, but twice.
“I know it’s a great thing that I did, I’d be willing to put myself in any situation to help whoever it may be,” said Boehme, who lives in Snohomish. “We should just all be willing to help people – if it was your family, if it was my family, if it was anybody’s family.”
Boehme, a high school basketball coach, was traveling home from Leavenworth three days before Christmas 2012. Heavy snow toppled trees in the Stevens Pass area, leading to some of the worst conditions in 30 years, including a fatal crash that killed two people.
Two cars in front of Boehme was a group of five people who encountered similar conditions. A tree slammed into their sedan, trapping the driver and one of the passengers. Boehme – and others – rushed to help.
“People were just taking people and getting them out of the car, and realizing there’s still a possibility other trees might fall,” the 25-year old said.
Boehme went to the passenger side of the car and found a woman who was five months pregnant trapped inside.
“I just stayed with her and wrapped a blanket around her and kept my arms around her,” Boehme said. “She was in shock. She was scared. She was scared for her husband, she was scared for herself.”
Boehme told the woman to breathe as they waited for medics to arrive. The woman was whisked to the hospital, and Boehme never heard from her again.
One year and two days later, on Christmas Eve 2013, Boehme was traveling through Snohomish, taking photos of real estate. Coming around the corner on Marsh Road, she saw steam coming from a ditch, so she parked her car to investigate.
About 10 feet down an embankment, beyond blackberry bushes, sat a flipped truck, submerged in water. Boehme ran in to help.
“You don’t have a lot of time to think. It’s just pretty much reaction and instinct,” she said. “I’m the first person here and I need to get down there and do what I can.”
Boehme waded into the waist-deep water. The driver’s side door wouldn’t open.
“I just started feeling underneath where the window was at, and I could feel where the window was starting to go down,” she said.
She was able to grab the driver inside.
“I just started yanking on the collar of his sweatshirt to try to get him out. What could’ve been 10 seconds felt like an eternity,” she said. "As soon as I started pulling him, I could see his head fully submerged under water, so then that scared me. Did I do him a favor or did I just make this worse?”
Boehme eventually got one man out – and then the other – by using her strength.
“I was able to pin my leg inside the car, between the door and the truck, and I just put my back against the truck,” she said. "I pressed open with my foot and tried to hold it open. I was able to get him out, too.”
Next week, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office will be giving Boehme a life-saving medal. She’s also considering a career as a first responder.
“It’s a great feeling but at the same time, it’s a little too much,” she said. “I’d be willing to put myself in any situation to help whoever it may be.”