Helpful neighbor turns into life saver
“I thought I was just going to help get his four-wheeler out, I didn’t know it would turn into a full-blown rescue,” said Dave Schwartz, who saved the life of a fisherman who got into trouble when he broke through the ice near the South Shore of Higgins Lake Monday afternoon.
Schwartz, 57, was standing on shore when he saw a four wheeler driven by John Murlick, 76, of Higgins Lake break through the ice about 100 yards off shore in approximately two feet of water. He said he put on his waders and collected equipment to help get the machine out of the lake, and when he got back to the lake, he could no longer see Murlick.
Walking out to investigate, he found Murlick had fallen backward into the water, and weighed down by his heavy, waterlogged clothing, could not stand up. Schwartz helped him to his feet, but he could not lift his legs high enough to get on top of the ice, so Schwartz pulled a canoe from shore and helped Murlick into it. He said men on shore then pulled the canoe in by rope.
Gerrish Township Police, fire and ambulance personnel, who had been alerted by Roscommon County Central Dispatch, were on shore to meet the canoe, and took Murlick to a waiting ambulance to warm up. The Roscommon County Sheriff’s Department also responded to the call.
Once Schwartz knew Murlick was safe, he went back into the water, and with the help of Dan Manninen of Gladwin and Don Mikolaizik of Houghton Lake, removed Murlick’s disabled four-wheeler from the lake.
Gerrish Township Police Officer Pam Williams said dangerous ice conditions exist all around Higgins Lake and warm weather will accelerate the deterioration of the lake’s ice cover.