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Lake rescues for ATV rider, fisherman

Friday, January 25, 2013

An ATV rider and an ice fisherman were rescued in two separate incidents resulting in the dangerous conditions of people venturing out onto lakes that are not quite frozen over.

One rescue happened Friday morning in Vernon Hills, the other happened on Thursday in Wauconda.

The ATV rider, along with a friend, had left a bar and were heading across Bangs Lake about a mile and a half to their homes on the other side of the lake when they drove straight into a nearly-fatal hazard.

An anguished friend, Tom Miller, pleaded with the 911 dispatcher to get help.

The call runs 12 minutes with the 911 dispatcher trying to soothe the fright away.

Help arrived in the form of Wauconda firefighters Chris Rhode and Mike Callender.

"Once we got him, we knew we had him wrapped up and we were pulling him in, we felt we were in good shape then," Rhode said. "We were worried about hypothermia."

"With the cold weather and the extreme temperatures, it takes a toll on your muscles, it takes a toll on your mental status," Callender said. "We didn't know how long he had, we didn't want him to go underneath the water."

In their emergency dry suits they ventured out a half mile on the ice where the victim, known only as John, clung to his floating all-terrain vehicle and started to lose hope.

"John, they're less than a football field, they're right here, they're coming," Miller is heard saying on the 911 tape.

Callender jumped into the hole and pulled a man twice his size into this rapid deployment craft, which the pair then dragged back across the ice to the landing below the docks on the rocks grill.

A dramatic rescue that was followed up by passersby Friday morning rescuing a 66-year-old Russian fisherman from Big Bear Lake in Vernon Hills. He was in about 4- or 5-feet of frigid water for five minutes. He was transported to Condell Medical Center and is expected to be fine.

"The mild winter weather has not made the ice very thick and safe for us, you know, it's 50 degrees one day and 20 the next," said Countryside Fire Chief Jeff Steingart.

The Wauconda firefighters stayed out late Thursday night, pulling the ATV out of the ice because they did not want the guys to back to get their property and perhaps create another incident.

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