Harrowing Rescue Caught On Video After Woman Falls Into Icy Lake St. Clair While Fishing

The woman was in the water for an estimated 15 minutes.

WWJ News
January 28, 2020 - 11:31 pm
Lake St Clair Rescue

Photo: Macomb County Sheriff's Office


HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WWJ) -- A woman is recovering after a harrowing experience while fishing in Lake St. Clair Monday afternoon.

The woman, whose name was not released, was fishing off the docks in Harrison Township with friends when she tried to stand up on the dock, lost her footing and slipped into the frigid waters. The Macomb County Sheriff's Office says another woman was on a nearby dock and heard her fall. When they looked over, the woman was struggling in the water.

Her friend was unable to pull her up to the dock as her body went numb from the cold. Two nearby fishermen also attempted to pull her out, but failed. As the woman's body became completely numb, she was unable to move and they called police.

Rescue crews from the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office and Harrison Fire Department arrived on scene and were able to pull the young lady from the 36-degree water. She was believed to be in the water for approximately 15 minutes before police were able to pull her to safety.

The sheriff's office released body camera footage of the intense rescue.

As the deputy attempts to pull her out, the woman states several times she can't move.

The woman was doing better on Tuesday, but wants to remind people to always fish with a partner and make sure you have proper, non-slip, footwear when you walking on any slippery surface, the sheriff's office said on Facebook.

"She is forever grateful to her friend and the fisherman that saved her life. We thank them as well," the post said.

Police are offering a few tips for what to do if you ever fall into cold water:

  • Don't panic. Try to get control of your breathing. Hold onto something or stay as still as possible until your breathing settles down. It may be a boat, a fixed object, or something floating. Focus on floating with your head above water until the cold shock response abates.
  • If multiple people fall into cold water, huddling in a group lessens the loss of body heat and is good for morale. Also, rescuers can spot a group more easily than individuals.
  • If you were not wearing a PFD when you entered the water, look to see if one is floating around you and put it on immediately. Don't take your clothes off unless absolutely necessary. A layer of water trapped inside your clothing will help insulate you.
  • Get as much of your body out of the water as possible. Even though you may feel colder out of the water, the rate of heat loss will be slower than if immersed in water.
  • If you cannot get out of the water quickly, act to protect against rapid heat loss. In as little as 10 minutes, you may be unable to self-rescue. Your focus now should be to slow heat loss.
  • Safety typically looks closer than it actually is, so staying with the boat is usually a better choice than swimming.
  • Adopt a position to reduce heat loss. If alone, use the HELP (Heat Escape Lessening Posture) position; or if there are others in the water with you, huddle together. The HELP position looks similar to the fetal position.
  • If you must swim, conserve energy and minimize movement. Swim on your back with your upper arms against the sides of your chest, your thighs together, and your knees bent. Flutter-kick with your lower legs.
  • Be prepared at all times to signal rescuers.
  • Seek medical help immediately.