JOYCE, Wash. — The Joyce High School track coach likely missed Joseph Kubalek's fastest sprint of the year.
Joseph, 17, was in the middle of his shift at the Log Cabin Resort sandwich shop on Washington's Lake Crescent last summer when he looked out the window and saw an elderly woman fall head first into the frigid water.
Immediately, Joseph darted out of the sandwich shop, down a hallway, out the door and across a field to the water's edge.
"The water was freezing cold and her head was barely above the water," said Joseph, a priest from the Joyce Branch of the Port Angeles Washington Stake.
The woman, Betty Moffett, 71, had managed to swim close to the edge and grab onto an underwater piece of iron protruding from a cement slab on the shore.
Joseph said Mrs. Moffett was struggling to stay afloat, but did her best to stay calm.
"The only panic was in her voice," he said.
Joseph knew the dangers of jumping into deep water with a potential drowning victim. Instead, he slipped off his shoes for traction, stepped to a shallow ledge in the water, reached out, grabbed Mrs. Moffett under the arms and pulled her to shore.
"[Joseph] was so kind," Mrs. Moffett, a great-grandmother, would say later. "His hand reached down for me. In the water it looked like the hand of God."
Once on dry land, Joseph said he treated Mrs. Moffett for shock, dried her off and brought her a hot drink from the resort.
"We talked and I tried to calm her nerves," he said.
Satisfied that Mrs. Moffett was fine, Joseph went back to work and said little about his actions. But Mrs. Moffett immediately called the local Port Angeles newspaper, which published a story about the rescue.
Joseph's parents, Douglas and Linda Kubalek, say they're proud of their son and grateful for the lessons Joseph learned in Scouting. The Boy Scouts of America awarded Joseph the National Medal for Heroism for his quick actions.
Joseph said he plans to serve a mission, go on to college and own his own computer business. For now, he stays busy studying and, yes, running with the track team.
"I never see him, he's so busy," said his mother, Linda.
E-mail: [email protected]