Profile: A Good Samaritan Among Us

By Cori Olson ’14

A local Eatonville resident tried to save two car accident victims last month, even after years leaving the fire department.

Jeff Burgess, a former Pierce County volunteer fireman, came to the rescue of two car crash victims from an accident while on his way to hunt in Eastern Washington late September. Both victims died due to not wearing their seat belts.

It happened when he was passing through Ephrata, a small town in central Washington. Burgess noticed a car’s headlights swerve across both lanes and into a ditch at 3 a.m. “My first thought was, drunk driver,” he said. According to, the time when most fatal accidents occur is between midnight and 3 a.m. Burgess pulled over to help the people inside the car. The victim was yelling in a mix of Spanish and English language.

“The driver was not responsive,” Burgess said.

The first person he pulled from the vehicle was from the passenger side door. The driver’s side door was in the ditch and hard to access. The woman in the passenger’s seat was bleeding severely due to a head injury from what looked like her hitting the dash board. Burgess, without hesitation, removed his sweat shirt and wrapped her head in it to stop what he could of the bleeding. He picked her up and sat her down on the side of the road and went back to check on the man.

Burgess made the call to 911 when the victim didn’t seem to be breathing. The Ephrata police department arrived at the scene minutes later. After further investigation they suspected the older man had a medical issue that caused the fatal crash. The woman died shortly after police arrived.

Jeff Burgess currently works at a local rock quarry, but still recalls the lives he saved as a volunteer years ago.  “I’ve been at many different accidents as a fireman,” he said. This last summer his prior volunteer work was helpful in doing the best job he could to help the lives of two unfortunate early morning drivers. Burgess said, “I think people make it out to be such a big deal. I just happened to be the first one there.”

A close source to Burgess said he is a good guy, a humble family man and  he is willing to help those in need no matter what. These accident rescues have happened more than once outside of his volunteer life but the other incidences resulted in recovering accident victims. This time Burgess did what he could to help but was powerless due to reasons out of his control. He feels bad he couldn’t do more.

“I really wish they were just wearing their seat belts,” he said.

Categories: Other

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