Contact: Captain John Metz
Duty PIO Pager 573-441-6608 (For Active Emergency Incidents - Leave detailed message)
Office 573-874-7644 (M-F, 8-5)
At 2:06 P.M. today, the Columbia Fire Department responded to a reported water rescue at the Twin Lakes Recreation Area, located at 2500 Chapel Hill Road in southwest Columbia. The 9-1-1 caller stated that a man had fallen through the ice while trying to rescue his dog. Firefighters from the Chapel Hill Fire Station were on the scene three minutes later at 2:09 p.m. and found that the victim had been removed from the icy water with the assistance of an off-duty Columbia Police Officer.
Witnesses stated that the victim's dog had fallen through the ice approximately 25' from shore and that the owner walked out on the ice to rescue him. The owner pulled the dog out of the water and onto the ice. The dog then ran to shore. The dog's owner then fell through the ice into water deep enough to cover his head. Off-duty Columbia Police Officer Dustin Green witnessed the event and rushed to the 22-year-old male's aid. Green, who had been walking his dog, crawled out onto the ice and used his dog leash to reach the victim and pull him to safety. The victim was transported by ambulance to University Hospital for evaluation.
"Fortunately, this turned out to be a non-event" said Columbia Fire Captain John Metz. "It had all the makings of a tragedy. If the event hadn't been witnessed and the rescue hadn't happened so fast, the victim might have succumbed to hypothermia and drowned" Metz said. The Columbia Fire Department usually responds to several ice rescues each year and many involve situations where a dog owner has fallen through the ice while trying to rescue a pet. "Never go out onto the ice to rescue a pet that has fallen through the ice. Call 9-1-1 and wait on shore for rescuers to arrive."
Columbia residents and visitors are reminded that local weather conditions have not been favorable for the formation of significant ice accumulations on area lakes. Ice skating is permitted only on Stephens Lake and only when conditions allow safe ice formation. Before skating is allowed, the City will inspect the ice and post signs at Stephens Lake. For safe skating tips and updates on ice conditions, watch for announcements on the Parks and Recreation Homepage.