Department of Natural Resources
Dec. 1, 2020
Strong winds and cool temperatures created challenging conditions for Department of Natural Resources conservation officers, Ludington Police and Mason County Sheriff’s Office personnel, who teamed up to rescue two men who were reported to have fallen off a Ludington pier into Lake Michigan on Saturday afternoon.
Conservation Officers Brian Brosky and Kyle Publiski, who patrol Mason County, met officers from the Mason County Sheriff’s Office and Ludington Police Department at the north pier, located west of Filer Street five minutes after receiving the initial emergency notification.
“Within 11 minutes of arriving at the north pier in Ludington, conservation officers responded as a team with local law enforcement to safely remove the two men from very dangerous water conditions,” said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “Conservation officers undergo unique rescue training, including cold water rescues, and are prepared for intense situations such as this.”
One of the men, a 20-year-old from Otter Lake, was standing on the pier shirtless, located about a half-mile from shore, frantically waving to the officers, while the other man was somewhere unseen in the lake.
Wearing his department-issued lifejacket, Brosky began making his way onto the slippery, algae covered pier – carefully timing each step to miss the 4-6 foot waves that were crashing over the pier. Publiski, Mason County Deputy Mark Willis and Ludington Police Department Officer Mike Fort followed Brosky onto the pier after obtaining lifejackets.
Brosky saw the victim in the water once he was within 100-yards. The man was trapped in the rough water and was clinging to a rock located at the bottom of the pier’s walkway with waves crashing over him.
Getting as close as he could to the water, Brosky shouted directions to the man, who was unable to hear due to the gusting wind and loud waves.
Brosky threw an emergency rope to the victim in the water, signaling to tie the rope around his waist and hold the rope with his hands. After a brief struggle in the rough water, the victim secured his end of the rope around his waist and Brosky began pulling the man towards the pier.
Willis arrived and helped Brosky pull the man securely on top of the pier at approximately 3:26 p.m.
Once on the pier, the man stated that he was extremely cold but could walk off the pier with the officers’ help. Securing the first man who was standing on the pier, Brosky, Willis, Fort and Publiski formed a human chain, placing the two victims in the center, and safely walked off the pier while waves continued to drench everyone.
Both men received on-site treatment from EMS for hypothermia and were transferred to a local hospital for additional care. Their conditions were unknown at the time of publishing.
First responders from Ludington Fire Department, Michigan State Police, Life EMS and the Mason County Dive Team assisted on scene.
Brosky has been a conservation officer since 1998, and Publiski since 2004.
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 services and conducting lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Conservation officers undergo extensive water rescue training to respond to and assist individuals in water emergency situations.