“You revert to the tools in front of you,” Officer Kammeron Bennetts of the Michigan State Police informs PEOPLE.
- A male individual, aged 65, tumbled into Arbutus Lake, located in the vicinity of Traverse City, Michigan.
- Michigan State Police Officer Kammeron Bennetts, unable to directly access the man, successfully enlisted the assistance of the man’s dog, Ruby, to aid in the rescue.
- The fast-acting officer utilized a “rescue disc” connected to Ruby’s collar to extract the man and bring him to safety.
A Michigan law enforcement officer, unable to reach a man who had fallen through the ice on a lake and was rapidly succumbing to the frigid waters, found assistance in the rescue effort from the man’s dog. The loyal canine stood on the ice beside its owner, helping facilitate the timely intervention.
“Will she come to me? Ruby come here!,” Michigan State Police Officer Kammeron Bennetts, 30, was alerted as the Brittany bird hunting dog stood beside the small hole created when its owner, who had ventured out to assess ice fishing conditions on Thursday, fell through the ice and submerged into Arbutus Lake near Traverse City, he informs PEOPLE.
“I could see him bobbing,” Bennetts explained, recognizing the urgency to act swiftly. However, due to the precarious thin ice, he could only maintain a safe distance of approximately 30-40 feet. “It could be two seconds or it could be two minutes. But when he goes under, he’s not coming back up.”
Based on the footage from his body camera, the officer initially tosses a rescue disc with a frisbee-like design attached to a rope. Unfortunately, it falls a few feet shy of reaching the 65-year-old man. Subsequently, he seeks assistance from a dog, summoning her and encouraging her to bite onto the rope. When she proves unable to grasp it, Bennetts fastens the rope to her collar and instructs the owner to recall her.
Grand Traverse County: Body-cam footage captures daring ice rescue by MSP Motor Carrier Officer Kammeron Bennetts with the help of the victim’s dog Ruby. Great team work and well done! https://t.co/uTblTv3bhV pic.twitter.com/NDKKHZnysu
— MSP Seventh District (@mspnorthernmi) January 18, 2024
Ruby swiftly returns, creating a splash as it re-enters the water and places the disc in the man’s grasp. After gently nudging Ruby back onto the ice, the man secures the disc while Bennetts instructs him to kick his legs, bringing his feet to the surface. Collaborating with a Grand Traverse Metro firefighter, Bennetts initiates a coordinated effort to pull the rope, successfully extracting the man from an estimated 8-10 feet of water. They bring him onto the ice and eventually guide him to the shore, where he manages to walk to an awaiting ambulance.
The unidentified man, declining to provide a comment, receives medical attention at a hospital and is subsequently discharged, as confirmed by Michigan State Police Lt. Derrick Carroll.
Bennetts, with two years of experience on the force, mentioned that a combination of training and instinct kicked in. He was a few miles away when witnesses dialed 911 to alert authorities about the incident. Upon arrival, he discovered the lake covered in a thin layer of “spongy” ice beneath approximately a foot of snow.
He underwent training for water rescues and ice rescues, enduring submersion in ice-cold water for approximately five minutes. He shared, “Within a minute your dexterity in your fingers goes, you lose speech, you lose everything,”
The man stated that he was in a precarious situation as he had been in the water for approximately 16 minutes, with air temperatures around 18 degrees and surface water temperature at about 30 degrees.
“They go under the ice,” Bennetts mentioned. “This does not happen very often where we have a successful rescue.”
Bennetts, the owner of a bird hunting dog named Tanner, a German shorthaired pointer, expressed that he depended on his dog training expertise and knowledge while conducting the rescue.
“You revert to the tools in front of you. I only had a dog in front of me, so use the dog,” he remarked. “I saw she was ready to go to work.”
Bennetts mentioned that the man expressed gratitude later on. “”I said, ‘You better give the dog a ribeye.'” The man shared his plans to reward Ruby with her preferred pastime. “He said, ‘I’m going to take her out and go hunting.'”
Lieutenant Carroll expressed deep appreciation for Bennett’s actions. “Everyone is impressed by (his) ability to take control of the situation and his ability to think outside the box to rescue the man in such a timely manner.”