Water Rescue

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

A power outage in Freeport Sunday morning was more than just a nuisance. It nearly proved deadly for two Comed works.
Early Sunday morning, two Comed workers respond to a call of a power outage in a rural Freeport area.
Traveling in an all-terrain vehicle, they glide onto the iced-over Pecatonica River, to check power lines for the source of the problem. Then the real trouble starts.
"They got out to where the heavier current was towards the middle of the channel and broke through," says Freeport Fire Fighter and Paramedic, Curt Timmer.
The vehicle is made to float, but, wedged in the ice and suffering a possible mechanical problem, it wasn't moving anywhere.
The men were stranded without a phone or radio.
"One subject made it to the bank, but he did fall in the water, the ice broke through, he went in the water so he was very wet and very cold. The other member fell in the water as well and he went back to the vehicle and was staying there," says Freeport Fire Captain Robin Goresline.
The first worker walked nearly a mile to the closest building to report the problem. Freeport fire fighters responded to the scene with members of their technical rescue team.
"We hooked onto the boat itself, or the ATV and drug it back to firmer ice, where we could get the individual to step out of the ATV and crawl to shore with the assistance of Joe, the other rescuer," says Timmer.
They were then able to pull the vehicle out... The story ends well, but it still serves to caution others against venturing onto ice.
"Right now with the warmer weather and the ice starting to thaw, if you can avoid it please do because it's just not safe," says Captain Goresline.
The fiancee of one of the Comed workers says he's doing fine now. He's resting and recovering, but he's very shaken up.
Both workers were treated for mild hypothermia.
A Comed spokesman says the workers, Chad Rakowski and Robert Coghlin, were trained and equipped to work in rough terrain. He says it's not terribly unusual for them to have to cross a frozen body of water.


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