By Cathy Taylor Correspondent
Three coaches from the Coleman High School Athletic Department are shining examples of what it really means to be a hero.
On their way to a Junior Varsity Softball tournament in McBain this past Tuesday, the Coleman coaches along with a school bus full of students witnessed a vehicle swerve out of control and leave the roadway, plunging into a deep pond.
According to coach Tom Pashak, “We were about 5 minutes from McBain on M-66 when this car suddenly swerved off the road and went through a wooden picket fence and into a pond. We immediately pulled over and called 9-1-1.”
Pashak and two other coaches, Katherine Benchley and Keisha Acker, rushed out to the pond to see if the occupant of the vehicle needed assistance. The only occupant in the vehicle was a man who told Pashak that he had hit his head in the impact.
Pashak asked the man if the car was resting on the bottom of the pond or if it was still sinking. The fellow yelled back that the car was still sinking and that he couldn’t get out. That was when Pashak, Benchley and Acker decided to take action.
“We knew at that point that we had to go in the water to get him out,” reported Pashak. “We weren’t sure how badly he was hurt, but we knew we had to get him out of the car and on shore.”
Thinking little of their own personal safety, all three coaches entered the cold water in an attempt to rescue the motorist.
Coach Acker stated, “We didn’t really take time to think about it. We just wanted to make sure this person was OK.”
According to Benchley, “It took all three of us to open the car door. We got him out of the vehicle and then Keisha and I each grabbed his arms and helped him back to shore.”
Coleman’s three newest heroes are having a difficult time understanding what all the fuss is about.
“I’d like to think that anyone who was physically able to rescue someone would do exactly the same thing,” admitted Pashak. “I don’t know if I would go as far as to call what we did heroic. I didn’t really feel a lot of danger in it. The water was a little cold and uncomfortable, but it was just the right thing to do.”
“Our families are so proud that we acted first and thought about it later,” added Benchley.
“I’ve gotten so many hugs and handshakes and congratulations. I feel a little uncomfortable with it, but at the same time it feels good,” replied Pashak.
One of Pashak’s students, Lars Murray, commented, “We already knew he was a great guy. It was a really courageous thing for him to do to jump in and help the guy out.”
The whole experience must have left the coaches and their athletes pumped with extra adrenaline. Once they reached their destination, they trounced their competition. According to Pashak his JV boys team won both games played and, according to Benchley and Acker, the gals mercied both of their games as well.
Katherine Benchley is a student at Central Michigan University and Keisha Acker is a student at Mid Michigan Community College. Both ladies serve as JV coaches for girls sports at the Coleman High School.
Tom Pashak is an instructor at Coleman High and also coaches the boys JV teams. Pashak has been teaching at Coleman for just a year, coming from South High School in Lansing, Illinois.