Missouri man pulled from ice after trying to rescue dog

Monday, January 20, 2014 | 6:03 p.m. CST

MARYLAND HEIGHTS — A St. Louis County man is recovering after falling through the ice at Creve Coeur Lake while trying to retrieve his dog.

Firefighters arrived in time on Sunday to rescue the man in his late 60s from the Chesterfield area. His name was not released.

The man was originally suffering from hypothermia, but Maryland Heights Fire Capt. Robert Daus Jr. told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch his prognosis is good. The dog was able to crawl out of danger and get back to shore.

"It had a good ending," Daus said.

Rescuers responded to the 911 call Sunday afternoon. The victim's dog, apparently unleashed, had wandered onto the ice. And when the man went out to get the dog, he fell in. He was submerged for a short time about 75 feet from shore.

"While en route, we got in our ice rescue suits and started getting out equipment, so we were ready to go when we got there," Daus said.

Rescuers used a rope to reach the man, with crews in the water using hand signals to communicate with rescuers on shore.

The rescue was complicated by the fact that the man is hearing-impaired and could not hear the rescuers calling to him. Two ambulances were waiting.

"From the time we were dispatched to the time he was out of the water was five minutes," Daus said.

The departments had trained together on ice rescues, he said.

"It pays off — the training and the hours that go into pre-planning and buying the right equipment," he said. "It was busy at the park, and bystanders were really helpful."

He urged people to avoid walking on ice, especially given the vast ups and downs of temperatures in recent weeks.

"The roller coasters of weather we're having — cold and then warm, freezing and thawing and refreezing — makes for weak ice," Daus said.

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