Man in search of his dog rescues mother and child
August 27, 2008 · 2:46 PM
As he had for 129 straight days, Richard Rain was driving along Lone Lake Road near his home last Thursday night about 9 p.m., looking for his missing dog.
What he found was a young mother and her 2-year-old son, trapped upside-down in their car in the woods along the South End road.
“It was very surreal,” Rain said. “The headlights were shining in the air. I saw a woman in the car, frantically yelling about her baby.”
Rain said he helped the mother, who he said appeared to be in her early 20s or younger, escape the 1996 Chrysler sedan through the open passenger-door window. Then he went back for the child, who was in the back seat, strapped with a seat belt upside-down in his car seat.
“The seat belt was jammed,” Rain said. “The baby was crying for his blanket. It was a pretty tender moment.”
Rain said the mother went to the other side of the car, and together they managed to unhook the belt. He said both mother and child appeared to be shaken, but otherwise unhurt.
He said he helped them into his car.
“But she didn’t want to go without getting the car seat to put the baby in,” Rain said. “She was clearly dizzy and shaken up, but her mother instinct still kicked in. I was really impressed.”
They drove less than a mile to the nearest house, the home of Larry and Ann Johnson.
The Johnsons called 911, then found a blanket for the baby, Larry Johnson said. Then he grabbed his emergency medical kit, blanket and a couple of bottles of water, and he and Rain returned to the overturned car to make sure there were no other victims.
Island County sheriff’s deputies and Fire District 3 responded, Johnson said.
Paul Busch, Fire District 3 assistant chief, said the driver apparently lost control of her car along the heavily-wooded roadway.
Both mother and son were taken by ambulance to Whidbey General Hospital in Coupeville, where they were examined and released, Busch said.
Rain said it was his relentless search for his missing dog, Rudy, a German shepherd mix, that put him in the right place at the right time.
He said Rudy broke free of his leash to chase after a deer on the morning of April 12 and never came back.
“It’s been very traumatic for us,” he said.
Rain said he has driven slowly along Lone Lake Road at the same time every evening since then, hoping to find his pal.
“I put bowls of food out, and the food gets eaten,” he said. But you never really know what’s eating it. It’s just a ritual to keep my hope alive.”
He said he has tacked up missing posters of Rudy all over the South End, and has received several sightings and leads, but no results.
“But I’ve met a lot of really nice people on the island,” said Rain, 53, an anthropology and creative writing student at the University of Washington, who has been on Whidbey for five years.
As for the mother and her child, Rain said he was glad he could be there.
“Hopefully, we’ll all help each other when we have to,” he said.
Johnson said he was impressed with the quick response of the sheriff’s deputies and fire officials.
“They’re all just awesome,” he said. “We’re proud to have them.”
Roy Jacobson can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.