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Arlington residents receive state Medal of Valor
ARLINGTON Its hard to believe we got all this attention for doing what you hope anybody would do, under the same circumstances, said Rick Bowers, who received the state Medal of Valor Jan. 24 with fellow Arlington resident Timothy Bourasaw.
Bourasaw and Bowers received the states highest honor for citizen heroism in recognition for rescuing two strangers from a vehicle fire Feb. 28 of last year, on the exit for state Route 530 on Interstate 5.
Not only were Bowers and Bourasaw strangers to the men they saved from their vehicle, but they didnt even know each other before that evening, when a van that was exiting I-5 eastbound at the same time as them collided with the rear end of the vehicle directly behind Bowers.
Bourasaw was already trying to open the vehicles doors by the time Bowers was able to join him. In spite of the fears of Bourasaws wife, that the already flaming vehicle might explode, he continued to try and retrieve the vehicles driver and passenger.
We could feel the flames, Bowers said. The fuel pump was on, which was feeding the fire. The driver was flailing around and screaming for help, because he was on fire.
Bowers and Bourasaw worked together to remove the driver, by pulling him out of the vehicle over the passenger, who was not only badly injured, but also unconscious and pinned in place.
Everything just happened so fast, Bowers said. The only thing I can remember thinking at the time was, Im going to get burned. I knew it would be minor burns, nothing bad, but I could feel the fire on my exposed skin.
After they retrieved him from the vehicle, Bowers and Bourasaw were able to extinguish some of the flames on his body simply by laying him down on the wet grass nearby. To remove the passenger, a knife had to be used to cut his seatbelt, which wouldnt release.
Within a couple of minutes of the start of the fire, the police, fire department and state patrol were all on the scene, Bowers said. I was impressed with their response.
Bowers was even more impressed, and humbled, when he found out that he and Bourasaw would be honored for their actions.
Its pretty amazing and astonishing, Bowers said. Im still kind of in awe.
Rick and Timothy risked their lives for total strangers, said Sen. Val Stevens, who nominated Bourasaw and Bowers for the annual award, alongside Reps. Dan Kristiansen and Kirk Pearson. They are a credit to the 39th District and the entire state of Washington.
Pearson likewise praised Bowers and Bourasaw for their extraordinary selflessness exhibited in the face of danger, while Kristiansen deemed it appropriate for the Legislature to set aside some time from doing the peoples business to salute people who werent looking for honors when they acted with such valor.
Bourasaw could not be reached for comment.