Man saved after falling through ice

Everton McLean
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Icy rescue

A short all terrain vehicle ride across a pond near Mahers turned into an icy hour-long struggle to stay afloat for a 72-year-old man Sunday - a struggle that only ended after a risky rescue by three RCMP officers and an off duty coast guard member.

Shortly after 1 p.m., police got a call to respond to the accident at Colliers Big Pond. When Cpl. Randy Pack and Const. Mark McDonald arrived at the pond, all they could see was the top of the man's head above water 400 metres from shore and the outline of his small dog on an ice pan beside him.

A man is taken to shore after being rescued from the icy waters of Colliers Big Pond Sunday. - Submitted photo courtesy of Harbour Grace Volunteer Fire Brigade

A short all terrain vehicle ride across a pond near Mahers turned into an icy hour-long struggle to stay afloat for a 72-year-old man Sunday - a struggle that only ended after a risky rescue by three RCMP officers and an off duty coast guard member.

Shortly after 1 p.m., police got a call to respond to the accident at Colliers Big Pond. When Cpl. Randy Pack and Const. Mark McDonald arrived at the pond, all they could see was the top of the man's head above water 400 metres from shore and the outline of his small dog on an ice pan beside him.

Pack said they looked around and saw an aluminum boat by the side of the road. Dressed only in their usual police uniforms, the men grabbed the boat and headed for the hole in the ice.

"It happened so fast, when we got there, myself and Mark just looked at each other and grabbed the boat and just got going," he said.

When they got to the edge of the hole where the man fell through they found him conscious, but weak.

"He was pretty cold and he was able to talk to us," he said. The officers threw the man a rope, but he was too cold to hold on.

By that time RCMP Cpl. Jason Butler and coast guard member Paul Bowering had arrived at the hole with a second boat.

McDonald and Butler climbed into one of the vessels and were pushed towards the man, while the other two men held onto a rope attached to the boat.

Using an oar to guide them, McDonald and Butler grabbed the man from the water and pulled him aboard the boat. They also managed to wrangle his small dog off the ice pan.

"It took us a while to get him out of the water and in the boat," Pack said of the man, who he said was weighted down with water.

The four rescuers then hauled the boats and the man to shore across the slippery, cracking ice, where emergency members were waiting to treat him.

Pack said they've been told the man was recovering in hospital and all emergency responders have been thanked by the man's wife.

He said the work was just part of his job, but he's happy to have helped save a life.

"It's a great feeling," he said. "I'm with traffic services, so we see things on the bad side more often. Usually when we're called to a crash we have to come quick and see what we can do when it's all over ... It was a nice feeling to get somebody out before anything bad happens."

Meanwhile, Harbour Grace Volunteer Fire Brigade chief Sonia Williams, who arrived at the scene just as the rescuers were pushing the man to safety, said the rescuers took a risk by going out on the ice.

"I was just hoping no one else would go through the ice with the gear on," she said.

"I'm sure if I was there when nobody else was, I'd probably do the same thing, but it's a risky thing to go out there and not have the appropriate gear on."

Both Williams and the RCMP warn people to stay away from thin ice and to be extremely careful on ponds.

emclean@thetelegram.com

Organizations: RCMP

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Recent comments

  • Mary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    Too bad this happened, but I think these RCMP Officers deserve a raise in pay, or some kind of honourary recognition in saving this man. They are out there on the front lines every single day saving people from terrible tragedies and this incident could have been worse.

  • Grant
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    lets be thankful he and his dog was rescued in time. guess everyone makes wrong descisions in our lifetime, except bob.

  • Donny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Turns out the dog is smarter than the owner.........

  • jessica
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    cannot believe how horrible some of you people are (BOB, HB, DONNY) ... its unfortunate we can't all be perfect, like you men... baha....... never make a mistake do you guys?... and that instead of smiling that this man is alive, you are critisizing... horrible.... any mainlanders reading this, ALL of us newfs arent this coldhearted... just a few i can count on one hand (like these 3) who have to put others down to make themselves feel better i guess......

  • P S
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Bob and Donny have a point. Snowmobile and ATV owners will just have to accept that our weather is just not there for them, yet. I'm sure it will come eventually but I think the man should be charged with wreckless driving and endangerment. It is quite obvious that the ponds are not frozen..we seem to be on a tropical island in comparison to our fellow provinces. Looks more like you are hovering, Morris. As for the drivers of these rec vehicles.. Pay attention!!

  • NewfieLady
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    A number of things could have caused this man to go out onto the ice. He may have chased his dog out there. He may have been disoriented , maybe even a little senile. There also might have been other tracks from an ATV on the pond leading him to beleive the pond was safe. Next time, don't be so quick to judge and make such immature comments. He might have jsut went out becuase he thought it was safe. It's called a mistake, people aren't perfect & we dont live in a perfect world.. But I guess thats just us right, not the 2 of you?

  • Fishermans Wife
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Somebody still has their Dad, Husband, Brother, all because of brave men who came to his rescue....and I expect the gentleman knew he had made an error in judgment long before Bob and Donny pointed it out.

  • o me nerves
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Good job boys but everyone should be wearing life jackets.

  • H
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    How many times do we need to see these things happen before we wake up and stop living so wrecklessly? It's like playing russian roulette.

  • Kathleen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Thanks to Morris from Placentia Bay and Grant! This is my step-father who foolishly made a mistake but let's not point the obvious.

    The dog is man's best friend. Lady barked and barked and thankfully the neighbours were alerted. The RCMPs only do their jobs and do it quite well. They have been commended and though it may not always be televised etc. they have been commended by my mom. She is blessed to have GOD watching over yesterday during the most frightening time in her life watching her husband...well almost die. What nightmare.

    In any event, we are happy he is here to welcome in the New Year and learn from his past mistakes...

  • Bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    They took him to the Carbonear Hosiptal, they should have taken him to The Waterford.

  • jennifer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    those RCMP officers should be given an award, not all of us would risk our own lives to save other, but the do it on a daily basis, the only difference this time is that there were acknowledged for it!

  • Morris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    It's like Grant said, it's our nature to make mistakes. We are not perfect and thank God this man is still alive because of the efforts of the rescue people.

    The thing that's stikes me funny about all this is that there are always sarcastic people in the background like Bob and Donny who hover around their computers and wait for things like this to happen and then give us insight into their warped minds.

  • Frances
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    I am so glad this man was rescued and is safe and sound. There is a TV show that shows people doing really, really stupid things and it's called What were they thinking . This guy could be on that show. How many warnings and public service announcements does it take for people to get the message - PONDS ARE NOT SAFE JUST YET!! Chrismtas Day was just FOUR days ago and it poured raining the whole day. How can anyone think ponds are safe just FOUR days later?? My husband and I went for a drive to Clarenville yesterday and were commenting on the beauty of the sliver of ice on the ponds along the way, and I do mean sliver. One could tell they were not safe. I just don't get it! Thankfully this person is safe but it could have been at the cost of those RCMP officers who risked their lives to save him. Their quick actions saved this man's life and they are to be commended.
    I hear the public service announcements and think who in their right mind would go out on a pond yet, well the answer is obvious.

  • Ted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    I noticed people skating on Kent's pond yesterday afternoon. I couldn't help but think these people are cracked. We had nothing but rain on Christmas Day and very little frost this season...just 48 hrs of cold weather since Xmas day.

  • Paul
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I know Constable McDonald very well and I'm not surprised that he risked his own life to help save this individual from drowning. The R.C.M.P. have recruited a good man in Mark and he's only just begun. The Town of South River is very proud of him today to say the least and as well of the other people involved in the rescue. Way to go Mark.

  • Maggie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    This wasn't a wrong decision or a mistake ! To cross a pond on a heavy ATV with the mild weather and rain we've being having is beyond comprehension.
    Thank God it was daytime and for his
    loyal dog staying with him and barking.
    Other peoples' lives were put at risk for
    this utter foolishness. I am thankful
    this man is okay, but all this danger was very, very unnecessary if plain common
    sense had been exercised. Yes, we all do make mistakes, but this was pure
    stupidity.
    How many warnings do the RNC and
    RCMP, etc., have to make before they
    are taken seriously ? How many more
    unnecessary deaths and tragedies are
    we going to have ?

  • Mary
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    Too bad this happened, but I think these RCMP Officers deserve a raise in pay, or some kind of honourary recognition in saving this man. They are out there on the front lines every single day saving people from terrible tragedies and this incident could have been worse.

  • Grant
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    lets be thankful he and his dog was rescued in time. guess everyone makes wrong descisions in our lifetime, except bob.

  • Donny
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    Turns out the dog is smarter than the owner.........

  • jessica
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    cannot believe how horrible some of you people are (BOB, HB, DONNY) ... its unfortunate we can't all be perfect, like you men... baha....... never make a mistake do you guys?... and that instead of smiling that this man is alive, you are critisizing... horrible.... any mainlanders reading this, ALL of us newfs arent this coldhearted... just a few i can count on one hand (like these 3) who have to put others down to make themselves feel better i guess......

  • P S
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Bob and Donny have a point. Snowmobile and ATV owners will just have to accept that our weather is just not there for them, yet. I'm sure it will come eventually but I think the man should be charged with wreckless driving and endangerment. It is quite obvious that the ponds are not frozen..we seem to be on a tropical island in comparison to our fellow provinces. Looks more like you are hovering, Morris. As for the drivers of these rec vehicles.. Pay attention!!

  • NewfieLady
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    A number of things could have caused this man to go out onto the ice. He may have chased his dog out there. He may have been disoriented , maybe even a little senile. There also might have been other tracks from an ATV on the pond leading him to beleive the pond was safe. Next time, don't be so quick to judge and make such immature comments. He might have jsut went out becuase he thought it was safe. It's called a mistake, people aren't perfect & we dont live in a perfect world.. But I guess thats just us right, not the 2 of you?

  • Fishermans Wife
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Somebody still has their Dad, Husband, Brother, all because of brave men who came to his rescue....and I expect the gentleman knew he had made an error in judgment long before Bob and Donny pointed it out.

  • o me nerves
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    Good job boys but everyone should be wearing life jackets.

  • H
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    How many times do we need to see these things happen before we wake up and stop living so wrecklessly? It's like playing russian roulette.

  • Kathleen
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Thanks to Morris from Placentia Bay and Grant! This is my step-father who foolishly made a mistake but let's not point the obvious.

    The dog is man's best friend. Lady barked and barked and thankfully the neighbours were alerted. The RCMPs only do their jobs and do it quite well. They have been commended and though it may not always be televised etc. they have been commended by my mom. She is blessed to have GOD watching over yesterday during the most frightening time in her life watching her husband...well almost die. What nightmare.

    In any event, we are happy he is here to welcome in the New Year and learn from his past mistakes...

  • Bob
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    They took him to the Carbonear Hosiptal, they should have taken him to The Waterford.

  • jennifer
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    those RCMP officers should be given an award, not all of us would risk our own lives to save other, but the do it on a daily basis, the only difference this time is that there were acknowledged for it!

  • Morris
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    It's like Grant said, it's our nature to make mistakes. We are not perfect and thank God this man is still alive because of the efforts of the rescue people.

    The thing that's stikes me funny about all this is that there are always sarcastic people in the background like Bob and Donny who hover around their computers and wait for things like this to happen and then give us insight into their warped minds.

  • Frances
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    I am so glad this man was rescued and is safe and sound. There is a TV show that shows people doing really, really stupid things and it's called What were they thinking . This guy could be on that show. How many warnings and public service announcements does it take for people to get the message - PONDS ARE NOT SAFE JUST YET!! Chrismtas Day was just FOUR days ago and it poured raining the whole day. How can anyone think ponds are safe just FOUR days later?? My husband and I went for a drive to Clarenville yesterday and were commenting on the beauty of the sliver of ice on the ponds along the way, and I do mean sliver. One could tell they were not safe. I just don't get it! Thankfully this person is safe but it could have been at the cost of those RCMP officers who risked their lives to save him. Their quick actions saved this man's life and they are to be commended.
    I hear the public service announcements and think who in their right mind would go out on a pond yet, well the answer is obvious.

  • Ted
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    I noticed people skating on Kent's pond yesterday afternoon. I couldn't help but think these people are cracked. We had nothing but rain on Christmas Day and very little frost this season...just 48 hrs of cold weather since Xmas day.

  • Paul
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    I know Constable McDonald very well and I'm not surprised that he risked his own life to help save this individual from drowning. The R.C.M.P. have recruited a good man in Mark and he's only just begun. The Town of South River is very proud of him today to say the least and as well of the other people involved in the rescue. Way to go Mark.

  • Maggie
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    This wasn't a wrong decision or a mistake ! To cross a pond on a heavy ATV with the mild weather and rain we've being having is beyond comprehension.
    Thank God it was daytime and for his
    loyal dog staying with him and barking.
    Other peoples' lives were put at risk for
    this utter foolishness. I am thankful
    this man is okay, but all this danger was very, very unnecessary if plain common
    sense had been exercised. Yes, we all do make mistakes, but this was pure
    stupidity.
    How many warnings do the RNC and
    RCMP, etc., have to make before they
    are taken seriously ? How many more
    unnecessary deaths and tragedies are
    we going to have ?