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Conservations officers rescue Montague woman from Manistee River

Quick actions of two Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers earlier this month resulted in a successful water rescue, saving a woman from drowning in the Manistee River.

CO Sam Koscinski and CO Scott MacNeill were conducting marine patrol on the river in Manistee County when they noticed a distressed female in fast-flowing water, located north of Tippy Dam. Elisabeth Aldridge, 22, of Montague, Michigan, was wrapped around a log being pulled by the current, her head barely above water.

Aldridge and her friends were swimming when the strong current took her further into the river. One of Aldridge’s friends was trying to reach the log where Aldridge was stuck, but struggled against the current. Officers Koscinski and MacNeill arrived on scene and advised the friend to return to shore.

“Many times each year DNR conservation officers are involved in saving lives while responding to life-threatening calls for assistance or, like this instance, coming across citizens in distress,” said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “We are very proud of the efforts of CO Koscinski and CO MacNeill – their actions prevented this event from turning into a tragedy for Ms. Aldridge, her family and friends.”

Tangled in old fish lines, Aldridge’s arm was punctured by fish hooks.

“Had the conservation officers not shown up when they did, who knows how long I would have rested on that log, trying to pry hooks off and slide myself along the log to land,” said Aldridge.

“This is a great example of why it is important to maintain a strong cadre of highly trained conservation officers to patrol Michigan’s 83 counties,” said Chief Hagler.

Battling the river current, CO Koscinski controlled the DNR boat as it fought additional current created from water hitting Aldridge’s body. He then positioned the boat to provide Aldridge support while CO MacNeill reached over the bow to temporarily secure Aldridge in a lifejacket.

CO MacNeill cut the fish lines attached to the hooks in Aldridge’s arm. When Aldridge broke free from the original lines, CO Koscinski maintained the boat to protect Aldridge from the strong current. Holding onto the boat, Aldridge’s legs became tangled in additional hooks and lines – the force of her body causing the bow of the boat to drop further into the water.

Officer Koscinski controlled the boat while CO MacNeill held Aldridge and provided her a knife to free her legs from the lines. In a state of shock, Aldridge was pulled into the boat where she was able to recover.

“It is important to keep safety in mind when enjoying activities in fast-moving waters. Once the water gets too strong, it’s hard to stop,” said Aldridge. “I really appreciate the work the conservation officers do.”

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.