Woman who survived DUI crash returns every year to thank first responders

SNOQUALMIE, Wash. --  A drunk-driving incident six years ago nearly killed a North Bend woman, but thanks to the swift action of a police officer that day, she's alive to share her story.

Not everyone lives to tell about a crash as serious as the one on I-90 on Dec. 15, 2009. But one survivor has made it her mission to share her story and never stop thanking the first responders who kept her alive.

Rachel Dahm makes a trip to the Snoqualmie Police Department every year. She specifically comes to see Sgt. Paul Graham, a man she credits with saving her life.

“As long as he’s working near us, we’ll come every year,” Dahm said.

Six years ago, a drunk driver hit Dahm’s car head-on on I-90 near the Preston exit. Graham, off duty at the time, happened to be driving by when he saw the crash and jumped into action.

“I’ve been an officer for a long time, and I’ve seen post-collision scenes, and my looking at this - I really didn’t think Rachel was going to survive," Graham said.

That didn’t keep him from doing what he could, holding her head up so she’d continue breathing until medics arrived.

“She had collapsed lungs, rib cages broken, and she wasn’t breathing,” Graham said. “Once I got her head straightened out, she started to breathe just a little bit.”

A little bit was all they needed.  After a long road, she has recovered.

So regardless of what stage of life she’s in, Dahm never skips an anniversary trip to thank Graham. This year, she didn’t come alone. She brought her 5-week old daughter, Holly.

In Dahm's eyes, Graham didn’t just save her life - he gave her the chance to create a new one of her own.

“She’s here because I’m still here, and I’m still here because of his actions that day,” Dahm said.

Two years ago, Graham received the Snoqualmie Mayor’s Lifesaving Award. They both continue to speak at events to warn about the dangers of drinking and driving.