Elisabeth Aldridge, 22, of Montague was swimming with friends earlier this month in the Manistee River when strong currents pulled her away and trapped her near a log, where the officers freed her from the lines and pulled her into the boat.
“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,” Aldridge said in a news release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
When DNR conservation officers Sam Koscinski and Scott MacNeill spotted Aldridge while on routine patrol, she was tangled in lines and wrapped around the log, her head barely above water. Her arm had been punctured by fish hooks.
Battling the current, Koscinski positioned the DNR boat near Aldridge. MacNeill secured her in a life jacket and then cut the lines attached to the hooks in her arm.
Aldridge broke free, but as she held onto the boat, her legs became tangled in additional hooks and lines, and the force of her body pushed the boat's bow down into the water. MacNeill gave her a knife so she could free her legs. He pulled her into the boat.
Chief Gary Hagler of the DNR's Law Enforcement Division said the incident is an example of conservation officers' important work.
“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,” he said. “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.”