Local News

Aerobics instructor turned lifesaver in deputy shooting

SPOKANE, Wash. - Tomi Wheeler may be the unsung hero of the deputy shootings on Tuesday, being the first one to arrive on scene to help wounded Spokane County Sheriff deputies Matt Spink and Mike Northway.

"The whole time I was like I can't let him die, I can't let him die," Wheeler said.

Gunshots, blood and sirens didn't stop Wheeler on June 19.

"I just hopped out of my car and did it. He's lying on the ground bleeding, there is no other option," she said.

It began as a "plain" day, as Wheeler calls it. She had cleaned and organized her home and then in the afternoon it was time to head to the YMCA in North Spokane where Wheeler teaches aerobics.

YMCA areobics first responder

"I always cut through the cute little neighborhoods in that area, it's just kind of a thing I do," she said.

Wheeler always takes a different way to work. She never knows where she'll end up but she never thought it would be here. At first, Wheeler heard gunshots and then saw an SUV come racing through, she ducked and then dove right in.

"If I died doing something like that, I know my family would be proud of me," Wheeler said.

Wheeler found deputy Northway lying on the ground. Matt Spink was still standing and calling for back-up. Wheeler isn't a deputy, but for a few minutes she was their back-up.

"I just held Officer Mike's arm right here, because this is where a big shot wound was," she said.

Wheeler had just been trained in CPR and first aid. Her main goal was to hold Mike's arm tight. "With all the blood that I saw, that is where I needed to be," she said.

In those moments, she didn't think of all the danger and all the bad that could have happened.

"You may think I am a brave person, but I was just doing the right thing at the right time," Wheeler said.

Wheeler says she is a bit surprised by her actions. Wheeler admits she can be a chicken but she is no chicken. She is a woman who had no idea how brave she really is until she needed to be.

"There was no way I would just sit in my vehicle, I wasn't grown up that way you help anyone and do anything," she said.