HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Harrison Township firefighters rushed to rescue a man Monday morning from the icy water of Lake St. Clair.
The man was out on the ice fishing with a friend when he fell through. Sgt. Fred Darga, a firefighter and paramedic with the Harrison Township Fire Department, said the man was about 300 yards off the Department of Natural Resources site at Ballard Street and Jefferson Avenue. His firefighters got the call about 7:15 a.m. about a middle-aged man in the water.
Darga said two firefighters went onto the ice in rescue suits. They were followed by another crew equipped with 900 feet of rope. The firefighters made contact with the man about 300 yards out and were able to remove him from the water. Darga said he was hypothermic but alert and oriented. He was transported to a nearby hospital. His exact condition is not known right now.
Darga said the ice was thin — less than an inch in thickness about 100 yards before firefighters reached the man. They also fell through the ice on their way to him.
“Then they swam to him and put him on an ice sled, and that’s how they got him out,” said Darga. “It was about 100 or 200 yards out when they said the ice was breaking up beneath them.”
Darga said temperature fluctuations at this time of the year make this ice very unsafe.
“If you stay on shore, you’ll be safe. I don’t know how lucky you’ll be catching fish, but any time you wander out just expect to fall through,” he said. “Typically the average person doesn’t have the tools to test the thickness of the ice.”
The man was in the water just less than 60 minutes. Darga said he’s very lucky. He said the man’s friend was the one who called 911.
“Very lucky. Once you fall into the water it just drains your body heat, and that’s when you become confused and you lose dexterity … he’s extremely lucky,” said Darga.
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