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How five men saved another man’s life

Firefighter Alex Magallon, police officer John Bogen, neighbor Jim Deighan and SAFE Boats International employees Jenson Charnell and Jonathan Watkins each went into Sinclair Inlet to help save 88-year-old Jack Doninger. - Kevan Moore
Firefighter Alex Magallon, police officer John Bogen, neighbor Jim Deighan and SAFE Boats International employees Jenson Charnell and Jonathan Watkins each went into Sinclair Inlet to help save 88-year-old Jack Doninger.
— image credit: Kevan Moore

Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan says that real life isn’t usually much like the movies, but on May 8, when one of his officers, a fireman and three Good Samaritans sprang into action to rescue an 88-year-old man in Sinclair Inlet, it could have been a Hollywood script.

“So often in this business, we say, ‘Well, it’s not like the movies,’ but sometimes it is like the movies,” Strachan said. “It is very much like the movies.”

The five men, who rescued Bremerton’s Jack Doninger, 88, after the brakes on his Cadillac failed and hurled him into the sound off Bachman Park at an estimated 80 mph, were feted at city hall as heroes last week.

Police officer John Bogen, firefighter Alex Magallon, neighbor Jim Deighan and SAFE Boats International employees Jenson Charnell and Jonathan Watkins, each played a role in saving Doninger’s life that day.

“This incident required a number of people to immediately step up and make an immediate decision to become involved and to do something really courageous,” Strachan said. “And the result of those decisions was that somebody’s life was saved. A person’s life was definitely saved because of the actions of individuals working together that included police, fire and citizens who stepped up when it was required of them.”

Deighan, whose home sits above Bachman Park and Sinclair Inlet, was on a ladder cutting vines while his wife, Francoise, was weeding in their garden when they heard the Cadillac bottom-out at the base of Trenton Avenue and then watched it sail into the water.

“I saw it happen,” Francoise said. “The car was traveling so fast. I said to my husband, ‘He’s going too fast. He’s not going to be able to stop.’”

She then called 911 and Jim took off down the hill. He ditched his shirt, wallet and keys and went into the water to help the driver. SAFE Boats employees Jenson Charnell and Jonathan Watkins, meanwhile, were testing a boat nearby and also sprang into the water. Bogen and Magallon were on the scene quickly following Francoise’s 911 call and also went into the water.

The group managed to get the window of the submerged vehicle down and cut the driver’s seatbelt to pull Doninger out. From there, they took Doninger ashore and began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and cleared his lungs of water.

“When they brought him up, he wasn’t moving,” Deighan said. “I pressed on his chest and tried to get him to breathe. Water came out of his mouth and he was breathing.”

Doninger was then taken by ambulance to Harrison Hospital in Bremerton where he spent a lot of time in the intensive care unit with family members.

“What I really like about this is one of our staff members called Harrison Hospital and the ICU nurse said, ‘He is just a delight to be with. He is a wonderful man,’” Strachan said.

Now, that’s a Hollywood ending.

 

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