Five Kodiak teens credited with rescue in fatal accident

Posted: Thursday, March 22, 2001

KODIAK (AP) -- Five Kodiak teens are credited with rescuing a group of other teens whose Jeep Cherokee swerved off a road and plunged into Pillar Creek early Wednesday.

Two brothers, Jonathan Zomchek, 18, and David Zomchek, 16, died in the accident, and a third teen, 19-year-old Josias Luna, was critically injured. Alaska State Troopers said the driver of the jeep, 17-year-old Amanda Ball of Kodiak, apparently lost control of the vehicle while slowing down to take a curve in Monashka Bay Road. Ball and Crystal Mandt, 16, were treated for minor injuries in Kodiak. Jose ''Carlos'' Luna, 21, suffered minor cuts to his face.

David Duncan, 18, Stan Skaw, 18, John Dicus, 17, Carl Green, 18, and Junior Valladolid, 17, were in the area soon after the accident. The teens, fellow wrestlers and students, were out for a drive when they saw lights coming from Pillar Creek.

Skaw, the driver, pulled over as Carlos Luna scrambled up the steep slope, dripping wet. He told the boys he had pulled Ball out of the Jeep and revived her, but two people were still trapped in the Jeep, Skaw told the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

The teens grabbed two wool blankets and two flashlights and scrambled down the embankment. Skaw drove to a payphone about a mile away to call 911, taking Luna with him in the truck to warm up. The other boys stayed to help the others.

Ball was still in the water, lying on the submerged car. Duncan said he could see a hand in the submerged jeep, so he jumped into the water and pulled out Jonathan Zomchek through a smashed window, then dragged him to the shore and attempted resuscitation. He said they couldn't see the second person in the Jeep.

When Skaw returned, he waded through chest-deep icy water and lifted Ball, holding her wrapped in a blanket above the water.

By the time troopers and emergency medics arrived, several of the other young men were half way up the steep bank with Jonathan Zomchek, said Bob Himes, Bayside Fire Department chief. The young rescuers also had wrapped Mandt and the two Lunas in their own jackets and the other blanket.

''Those kids did an excellent Job,'' Himes said. ''They were taking care of (Ball) as best they could, they were pulling people out. They were cold and wet. If they hadn't stopped and helped, we would have lost her too. There may have been more deaths.''

As Bayside volunteer safety officer Jean Adams took control of getting the remaining victim out of the vehicle, Bryan Crisp, another Bayside volunteer who works full time as a Coast Guard firefighter, dove under the Jeep five times and retrieved David Zomchek.

Even after troopers and volunteer firefighters had arrived, the young friends continued to help them lift the remaining victims up the cliffside.

''Im really proud about us working as a team and working toward that one goal,'' Duncan said. ''We possibly saved four peoples lives.''

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