Crewman makes it home for mother's funeral thanks to daring ice rescue

Four men from the MIFD walked on the ice and many more were staged along the route and shore as back up and emergency.

A crew member on the freighter "Michigan" had a daring rescue from the ice when he needed to get home for his mother's funeral. Desperate to get to shore to go home, the crew member called the U.S. Coast Guard to rescue him. The problem was, he was nearly two miles away from shore... too far to reach.

Stranded, he called the Mackinac Island Fire Department for help. That's when Assistant Chief Jason St. Onge had to think fast.

"You have to do a risk versus reward," said St. Onge. "And that's generally not something we would do, but in this case, you have emotions tug at your heart strings. The guy just lost his mother and he needed to get home."

Assistant Chief St. Onge, with Chief Bradley and Assistant Chief Barnwell put together a plan to get the man to shore. They grabbed all of the ice and water rescue gear they could, risked their lives, and walked across the ice.

"The go was pretty slow because the ice was pretty choppy and rough and there was some slush and swampy areas," said St. Onge.

Eventually reaching the man, with the help of four Mackinac Island Firefighters, he was lowered down off the freighter and brought to shore.

"This was not on our charter area where we usually pass," said St. Onge. "This was out on the shipping channel, so you've got to stay away from that area... the danger is falling through the ice of course."

Upon reaching land, waiting snowmobiles took him to the airport to head to his home port of Rogers City. St. Onge said it was a risky situation, but well worth it.

"He was quite appreciative and thanked the guys helping him," said St. Onge. "Certainly our take on it was, you know, some day there's going to be a citizen of Mackinac Island somewhere needing help or emergency services in the area they're in, and we'd like to think that they would help out some of our citizens the best way they could."


for the full interview with St. Onge.