Jogger Helps Rescue Man, Dog From Icy Lake Michigan in Chicago

By Dick Johnson
|  Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014  |  Updated 12:06 PM EDT
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Jogger helps pull man and poodle to water's edge until emergency crews arrive.

Jogger helps pull man and poodle to water's edge until emergency crews arrive.

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Jogger Rescues Man, Dog From Lake Michigan

Man pulls poodle and owner from the icy water with rope.
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A passing jogger helped rescue a man who attempted to save his pet poodle from icy Lake Michigan Tuesday, just south of Montrose Harbor.

The man was walking with three poodles at about 5:15 p.m. when one of the dogs ran around a retaining wall onto the ice and fell in. The owner went after him and fell in the water as well.

Adam Dominik was jogging near the bird sanctuary when he heard dogs barking and ran to the scene.

A cross-country skier named Lynn Gerhard was already there, and was in the process of calling 911.

"His face was peering out. He was completely submerged, except for his face," Dominik said. "I knew I had about two or three minutes before hypothermia set in and he went under, so I had Lynn keep talking to him and keep his spirits up."

Dominik says he found a yellow twine rope near the bird sanctuary and attempted to pull the man out, who was 10 feet away, below the ice-encased retaining wall.

"At first I threw the rope over him but the dog was kind of pulling on him with his weight pushing him under the water," Dominik said. "He kept saying, 'Save the dog first,' I kept saying, 'No, we're going to save your life first and then the dog, your life is more important,' but he insisted on pulling up the dog first."

Dominik (pictured, right) managed to pull the man and the dog closer to the shoreline, and that's when members of the Chicago Police Department Marine Unit and the fire department arrived and finished the job.

"He's responsible for a rescue here today," Officer Kevin Kelly said. "He did a great job. He was able to pull that victim close to the shoreline, and that allowed us to get our rescue sling down to him and work as a group to get that person up, and then it was a long trek from that shoreline up to the ambulance here."

The victim was transferred to a local hospital where he was listed in stable condition. The dog is also reportedly expected to survive. 

But just getting to the scene proved difficult for the emergency responders. It was about a quarter mile from the nearest parking lot, and they didn't have an exact location.

"Running in about 12 inches of snow as fast as you can to get to somebody who's fighting for their life ... it was a desperate situation," Officer Jean McCarthy said.

Officials say the incident should serve as a warning for dog owners to keep their dogs on leashes, because at this time of year, it's not clear where the shoreline ends and the water begins.

"If a dog goes in the water, call 911 and we'll come and get you, don't go in yourself," said Ron Dornecker of the Chicago Fire Department.

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