After years of building a career in costume design and the fashion world, Sica Schmitz, 35, finds she can have the best of both worlds living back in Sequim.
Schmitz was raised in Sequim and went to Peninsula College before transferring to Willamette University in Salem, Ore., and eventually attending fashion school in New York City. From there she went into costume design for film and television for several years in Los Angeles before moving back home last year to pursue a higher quality of life.
“I finally realized this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been,” she said.
Schmitz continues to be an industry leader from the Olympic Peninsula promoting sustainable fashion through her online business Bead & Reel and non-profit Impact Fashion.
She is also a yoga teacher in both Sequim and Port Angeles and soon to be first-time mom.
Last year Schmitz had a significant encounter on the Olympic Discovery Trail that came full circle for her this spring. Here is her retelling of meeting John on the trail:
“I believe it was September 2018. I have a friend who I would meet about once a week for a hike. That week our schedules weren’t lining up well, so we ended up taking a hike on a day and a time at a place we don’t normally do — putting us on the Olympic Discovery Trail for a short morning walk instead of our usual all-day treks off the grid.
We walked the trail and on the way back we saw a man lying on the ground. We called out to him but he didn’t respond. As we got closer we saw he was clearly in distress. He wasn’t conscious and wasn’t breathing well or very often. Something was obviously wrong, so we called 9-1-1.
While we waited some cyclists joined us and a local sheriff was dispatched. We tried CPR but by the time the paramedics got there it seemed as though it was too late. He was gray and wasn’t blinking or breathing. There was nothing about him that seemed alive anymore.
There’s only so much you can do for somebody in a place and situation like that, and it was horrible to feel so helpless. I wished I could have done more. I’m the kind of person who always looks for the meaning in things and I thought maybe the reason we ended up there that day was so at least he wouldn’t die alone. At least he had us by his side, and as a yoga teacher I silently said some chants and mantras and surrounded him in white peaceful light.
The paramedics took him away and I cancelled my usual morning yoga class. I was quite shaken and met up with my mom (Eileen Schmitz) instead. She and I are very, very close and she knew this experience had been very upsetting for me so she called around to try and see if we could at least find out his name (since I didn’t even know that much), so we could send condolences to his family or help in any way.
Several days later my mom was able to find out that he had been miraculously resuscitated in the ambulance by the paramedics, but was now in a coma and had been transferred to a hospital in Seattle. I was really glad he was alive but I didn’t know his condition or if he’d ever come out of the coma. We still weren’t able to find any way to get in touch with him or his family.
After many months I assumed I had gotten as much closure as I would ever get around this experience.
Then last week (early May 2019) I happen to be at my mom’s JACE Real Estate Company office in Sequim and she found me in the back of the building and told me there was a man there to see me.
I was very surprised since I wasn’t expecting anyone. I thought perhaps it was going to turn out to be a surprise baby shower or something like that, which is definitely something my mom would do. I walked into the lobby and all of her real estate agents were there plus a man I didn’t know (which only made me more suspicious of some sort of baby shower surprise). The man looked at me and said, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you’d be here or I would have brought you flowers.’ I was even more confused now (just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean people need to bring me flowers!). He continued, “I wanted to thank you for saving my life.”
It was so out of context and I had no idea what he was talking about at first. Then I realized this must be been the man from the trail. I didn’t recognize him at all in this healthy, breathing, fully alive state.
We hugged and we cried, and everyone in the room cried too. It was really powerful and beautiful and unexpected.
Thanks to the joys of living in of a small town he had somehow found out my name and had stopped by my mom’s office, hoping she could put us in touch. I happened to be there already … another stroke of serendipity in this whole experience.
I was so appreciative that he found me and let me know he was okay — not just okay, but thriving, despite everything he had gone through. It was a beautiful sense of closure on what had been a very sorrowful experience.
I felt like everything had conspired to put my friend and me on the Discovery Trail that day so we could find him. While I wasn’t personally the one who saved his life, I was one of many people in a long process who contributed to him being alive and well today. Timing is so important, and maybe if we hadn’t stumbled upon him exactly when we did and called an ambulance exactly when we had then this story wouldn’t have had such a happy ending.
I think about this experience often whenever I find myself delayed or detoured or somewhere I wasn’t planning to be. You just never know what bigger picture is coming together.”
Editor’s note: The man Sica Schmitz helped asked we respect his privacy and use only his first name.
Everyone has a story and now they have a place to tell it. Verbatim is a first-person column that introduces you to your neighbors as they relate in their own words some of the difficult, humorous, moving or just plain fun moments in their lives. It’s all part of the Gazette’s commitment as your community newspaper. If you have a story for Verbatim, contact editor Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.