Harrison Township officials rescue 2 men who fell through ice on Lake St. Clair

Firefighters say men were trying to ice fish before falling through thin ice

HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Officials in Harrison Township rescued two men who tried to go ice fishing on Lake St. Clair and fell through the ice.

Harper Purvin, 17, witnessed the rescue. She said her Nikon digital camera is never far from reach, and Monday afternoon was no exception.

"It has a really good zoom, and I like to get some really nice sailboat pictures," Purvin said. "I figured, since the weather was nice, we would go and take pictures."

But when she zoomed in, she saw firefighters rescuing a man from the ice on Lake St. Clair, and she snapped pictures.

"You can see there's one firefighter pulling a man out," Purvin said. "I was able to see very clearly the men struggling in the water and the firefighter working to pull them out."

Firefighters had been called to the scene when Richard Rickert spotted two men walking on the ice.

"I could see them going toward that bad ice," Rickert said. "I said, 'That doesn't look good out there.' I said, 'We may see someone fall in.' All of a sudden, one guy's down."

He said he wasn't certain what he'd seen because it was hundreds of yards from shore.

"But then the other guy tried to circle to help him, and then down he went," Rickert said.

Harrison Township fire officials and members of the Coast Guard come to the rescue.

Officials said the men had been trying to ice fish on the thin layer of ice. By the time help arrived, hyperthermia had started to set in as they were stuck in the 32-degree waters of the lake.

"It took us 30 minutes to get the first guy and 45 to get the second guy because the ice conditions were so bad," Harrison Township Fire Department Battalion Chief Jason Groth said.

Harper said she stayed focused on the situation, hoping for a positive outcome.

"My heart was racing," she said. "I was thinking, 'Thank God, they got these people out.'"

"We can't recommend being on the ice this time of year," Groth said.

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