Colby Turner has been awarded the American Red Cross’s highest honor for his quick work to rescue a stricken track team member last year.


of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

Walla Walla High School senior Colby Turner has received the American Red Cross’s highest honor for training and action that likely saved a teammate’s life during a school track meet last year.

“Colby has done something that most people in their lifetime won’t do: save a life,” said Peggy Hogarth, executive director of Central and Southeastern Washington Chapter of American Red Cross.

In a presentation Friday afternoon at the Walla Walla YMCA, Hogarth presented the Certificate of Merit, signed by the president.

The award dates back to 1913 and is the highest recognition by the Red Cross to an individual using skills learned in Red Cross Training Services course, Hogarth told friends, family members, educators and supporters during the 4 p.m. ceremony.

Not quite a year has passed since that day at the high school. A narrative from the American Red Cross said teammate Jacob Pribilsky had just finished the 400-meter dash and was showing signs of labored breathing. Knowing his teammate has asthma, Turner stepped in and asked someone to retrieve an inhaler for help. But as the teens began to sit down, Pribilsky experienced a seizure.

Using the Red Cross-certified First Aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator training he had as a YMCA lifeguard, Turner rolled his teammate onto his side to clear his throat and airway while the athletic trainer summoned help.

According to the description, the seizure subsided, but as Turner assessed the teen he discovered Pribilsky had no pulse. Turner immediately began chest compressions until a defibrillator was brought by responders. Pribilsky was revived after two shocks and was then taken by emergency medical personnel for observation. He was later flown to Spokane for advanced treatment, where he continued to recover.

When Erika Miller, the YMCA’s aquatics director and Turner’s boss, heard about his quick actions, she nominated him for the award.

“I’ve always been impressed with Colby’s work ethic, and his dedication to his values and beliefs,” Miller said.

Turner told an audience at the Y on Friday he was honored to receive the award. “I’m proud I could help someone who was in need,” he said.

The situation that day not only affected Pribilsky’s future, it also had an impact on Turner’s.

Headed to Pepperdine University after high school, Turner said he wants to pursue medical school. He sees a possible future in the trauma unit of a hospital.

“I was always interested in that,” he said. “But after everything happened, being able to help someone in need solidified that.”

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at or 526-8321.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.

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