HOWELL, Mich. – The man who lost his leg in a tragic boating accident is sharing his story Tuesday and thanking the heroes who saved his life.
A day of fun on a West Michigan lake this weekend turned to tragedy in an instant for Cameron Cichosz. Now, the 20-year-old Howell native is showing how even if his lifelong dream has been dashed, he still has a lot to be thankful for.
A day ago, Cichosz was helplessly bleeding in Gun Lake, which is south of Grand Rapids. His leg was severed, he was in excruciating pain and he didn't know if he would survive.
"I didn't know how bad (it was) until I got yanked out of the water," Cichosz said.
A day later, Cichosz is alive to tell his story.
"I remember falling off the boat, trying to tread water while yelling at them to turn around and come back and get me," Cichosz said. "I remember seeing the bloody, gory mess that was my leg."
Police credited two Metro Detroit doctors and others nearby who were able to pull Cichosz from the water and apply a tourniquet to help stop the bleeding. They said it likely saved his life.
"I would consider them heroes," Cichosz said.
His lifelong dream to serve his country as a Marine has been lost, as he was a month away from heading off to training.
"To see it cut short when I'm so close to taking the first, biggest step, that's probably the hardest for me," Cichosz said.
He said it was also difficult to watch his parents go through it with him.
"They definitely could have lost me," Cichosz said. "I'm glad they didn't for their sake, because I have a daughter and I would never want to lose her."
Cichosz said it's been an emotional couple of days, but through it all, he hasn't lost his sense of humor.
"I'm definitely going to be a pirate for Halloween," Cichosz said.
Thanks to the strangers who helped him, he said he hasn't lost hope.
"They went out of their way without even knowing me just to help me, and saved my life, actually," Cichosz said.
The doctors who saved Cichosz said they didn't want to talk on camera, but they plan to meet with him and his family privately.