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August 20 • 03:24 PM
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Icy plunge


Firefighters credit teen for helping rescue grandfather


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Emergency personnel attach lines to partially submerged John Deere Gator last Wednesday, before pulling it from an estimated three feet of water.

December 17, 2008
IMLAY TWP. — Quick response by emergency crews and the victim's grandson may have saved the life of a man who fell through the ice behind his home Wednesday afternoon.

Imlay City Fire Chief Kip Reaves reported that the wife of the victim called 911 shortly before 3 p.m., stating her 74-year-old husband, Joseph Toepfner, had gone through the ice on the lake behind their property at 6860 Hunters Creek Rd.

When rescue crews arrived, they found 17-year-old Paul Schwalbe attempting to throw a rope to his grandfather, who had broken through the ice while riding a John Deere Gator about 20 feet from shore.

The victim was not injured, said Reaves, but he was pinned against the ice (by the Gator) and could not get out on his own.

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"I commend the victim's grandson for his immediate actions during the rescue," said Reaves. "He was the one who walked out onto the 3-inch ice and tossed his grandpa the rope, which enabled us to pull the victim out."

Once removed from the water by Reaves and Attica Assistant Fire Chief Matt Dougherty, EMS workers escorted Toepfner to his home for treatment. They found no injuries and transport to the hospital was not required, said Reaves.

Attica and Imlay City firefighters were eventually able to attach straps to the Gator and pull it to the shore with the aid of a fire department pickup truck, said Reaves.

"This was one of those emergency calls where things went nearly perfect from start to finish," Reaves said. "In less than six minutes from the original (911) call, emergency workers were on site, went into action and removed the victim from the water.

"The victim got out, the Gator was removed and nobody got hurt," said Reaves.

Reaves acknowledged the rapid efforts of all involved in the rescue. They included: Almont police, Michigan State Police troopers, Lapeer County EMS, and the Attica and Imlay City Fire Department rescue crews.

"I checked on the victim (Thursday) and according to his wife, he is fine," noted Reaves.

Castle Creek
Van Dyke Gas
08 - 20 - 17
03:25
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