MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee firefighters rescued a fisherman who cracked through the ice at Milwaukee's McKinley Marina on Wednesday morning, January 16th. But the victim has an off-duty Milwaukee police officer to thank for getting help so quickly.
Todd Puetz is a Milwaukee Police Officer who happened to be off duty on Wednesday and went to McKinley Marina to relax and try to catch some rainbow trout.
A little after 8:30 a.m., Puetz heard some shouting. He said it didn't sound normal; like someone was in distress.
"It was hard to hear at first, we had a strong south wind this morning, and the yelling was coming from my north about 200 yards away," said Puetz.
Puetz ran down the pier and saw another fisherman who had apparently slipped on the ice on a ledge and fallen about 15 feet, cracking through the ice.
Puetz believes the fisherman had been in the water between 10 to 15 minutes by the time he heard and found him. The fisherman's entire torso was above water, but Puetz say it was clear hypothermia was beginning to set in.
When Puetz realized he couldn't reach the fisherman, he called 911.
Puetz said while he waited for firefighters to arrive on the scene, he told the fisherman to focus on keeping his head and hands above the water -- and to control his breathing.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, they tossed a "throw bag" to the man. A "throw bag" is a bag with a rope line that the victim can attach themselves to. After the rope was secure, the man was pulled to safety.
"I'm just glad I was there to hear him yelling in the distance and help him out," said Puetz.
The victim is okay. He was checked over and warmed up. He refused treatment or transport to a hospital. Family of the victim came and picked him up a short time later.
Milwaukee police say the 35-year-old fisherman received a citation for trespassing.