A heroic act rewarded

A car struck a utility pole and burst into flames, trapping the driver inside the vehicle.

Deputy Don Moszkowicz receives Medal of Valor.

A car struck a utility pole and burst into flames, trapping the driver inside the vehicle.

The fire became so intense the front windshield glass began to melt, but that did not deter Deputy Don Moszkowicz from battling the blaze to save the man’s life.

What was Moszkowicz thinking when he risked his life to save another?

“I wasn’t. There was a fire and I had an extinguisher,” he said. “I’m not a fireman, but we have fire extinguishers in our cars for a reason.”

Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer awarded Moszkowicz the Medal of Valor Tuesday for his actions in saving the driver’s life in March. The Medal of Valor is the highest award that may be bestowed on a Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office employee and only 16 KCSO employees have received the honor.

“I think it’s a prestigious award,” Moszkowicz said. “Obviously I’m not the first one who’s gotten it and to be in that group of guys is great.”

The Medal of Valor is reserved for KCSO employees whose actions during an incident go above and beyond what’s normally expected of a law enforcement person, according to KCSO.

“They tell me that’s above and beyond,” Moszkowicz said. “I think it’s just part of the job.”

Moszkowicz was on duty in the early morning hours of March 21 in the 4000 block of Chico Way NW in Central Kitsap when he noticed a white car traveling towards him at a high rate of speed. The car crossed the fog line onto the shoulder of the southbound lane of travel, then abruptly crossed both lanes of travel onto the northbound shoulder.

Moszkowicz attempted to catch up to the car and, in the 1900 block of Northlake Way, the man driving the car failed to negotiate a curve. The vehicle left the roadway and struck a utility pole causing power lines to fall across the road and around the car. The car came to a stop on top of a rock wall and the engine compartment burst into flames.

“I didn’t see it happen, but as I was coming up to the car, I could still see the power lines coming down on the road,” Moszkowicz said.

With the driver’s door jammed shut, Moszkowicz entered the car through a rear passenger door and found the 29-year-old Bremerton man lying across the front seats. The man said he was trapped and Moszkowicz couldn’t get him out.

Moszkowicz battled the growing flames with fire extinguishers until fire and rescue units arrived. The fire caused several small explosions, one of which knocked the deputy to the ground.

The driver sustained only minor injuries and Moszkowicz has not seen the man since the incident.

Moszkowicz said he didn’t think about getting hurt, he just knew he had to do his best to save the man inside the vehicle.

“Obviously it runs through your head afterwards when it’s a little too late,” he said. “This is what we do everyday, so for somebody to get an award, I’m not exactly sure what to think. It’s just one of those things.”

Moszkowicz is a Houston native and spent eight years in the Navy. He lived in Kitsap County for several years while assigned to Naval Hospital Bremerton and the USS Carl Vinson. He volunteered and served as a KCSO reserve deputy during that time.

Moszkowicz worked as a deputy constable with Harris County Constable Precinct 4 in North Harris County, Texas from 1996-2005. He decided to return to Kitsap County in September 2005.

He resides in Central Kitsap with his wife and daughter.

Moszkowicz said his favorite thing about being a deputy is the satisfaction he gets from a good day’s work.

“It’s an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay,” he said. “You go home and you know that you did what you could to make one more day safer.”