Bill Pace woke up on a recent weekday morning feeling weak in the knees. Acting on the side of caution, he phoned his primary doctor. After a thorough checkup with a nurse practitioner, Pace discovered his heart was out of rhythm.
Pace, of Bellevue, was given a heart monitor and was sent home.
A few days later, Pace was driving on his way back from a visit with a friend in Kent when he passed out behind wheel. As his car approached the I-405 interchange from Highway 167 in rush hour traffic, his car swerved from lane to lane, clocking in at around 35 miles an hour.
“Up until that point, I was feeling completely fine,” Pace said, noting that the nurse practitioner had given him the go-ahead to drive. “I had no indication I was about to pass out.”
Luckily for Pace, Duane Innes was in the car directly behind his and noticed the erratic driving and pulled up beside his car. He and his daughter were on their way to a Mariners game.
When Innes saw the driver was unconscious with his body clumped over the steering wheel, he acted quickly and cut in front of Pace’s car with his own, hitting bumpers. Both cars came to a stop at the Jersey Barrier.
The impact jolted Pace out of his unconscious state.
“I remember feeling the jolt from the impact and hearing a loud bang, but I was still unaware of what was happening,” Pace said.
Innes managed to get Pace’s attention long enough for him to open the driver side door. He immediately took Pace’s foot off the accelerator and took the keys out of the ignition. A motorcyclists, Chris Konomos, who had pulled up behind the two cars alerted them that help was on its way.
State Patrol and Medic One arrived shortly.
Following a medical checkup and blood tests, it was determined that Pace had experienced a severe drop in blood pressure which resulted in him losing consciousnesses. There were also signs of a minor heart attack which had occurred prior to Pace’s visit to the nurse practitioner.
“Duane saved my life,” said Pace, who is back home and doing well. “I was passed out and driving down the freeway during rush hour traffic. The situation could have been ugly. Most people would approach my swerving by giving me the finger as they drove by, but not Duane. He took the time to access the situation and then acted bravely. He’s truly my hero.”
Lindsay Larin can be reached at 425-453-4602.