Four DNR conservation officers honored with Lifesaving Awards

Officers helped rescue two Belle Isle visitors who had fallen through the ice.
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Statewide DNR News

Feb. 5, 2016

Contact: Capt. Dave Malloch, 517-783-2475

Four DNR conservation officers honored with Lifesaving Awards

For their roles last March in rescuing two Belle Isle visitors who had fallen through the ice, four Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers have been presented with Lifesaving Awards from the DNR Four Michigan DNR conservation officers receiving Lifesaving AwardsLaw Enforcement Division. The officers received those awards at last month’s regular meeting of the Natural Resources Commission meeting in Thompsonville.

Sgt. Michael Feagan and Sgt. Ron Kimmerly were on routine patrol at Belle Isle Park when an emergency call came in that a pair of park visitors had fallen through the ice. Though they had been able to get out of the water, the visitors were lost in the island’s woods and had no idea where their vehicle was.

The two officers enlisted the aid of conservation officer Michael Drexler and Sgt. Todd Szyska – who were on the island for other business – and began the search on the east end of the island, where the incident reportedly occurred. Interviews with other park visitors turned up no additional information.

The officers eventually made phone contact with the pair and blasted their sirens so the victims could tell them which direction the sound was coming from. After determining a possible location for the lost visitors, the officers had to climb fences and slide through locked gates to get to them.

While Sgt. Szyska remained at the gate to await medical personnel, the other three officers located the pair, who were in medical distress.

“Both were experiencing hypothermia,” Feagan said. “Their feet were pretty frozen and they couldn’t walk anymore. Had someone not gotten the call, they’d have been in big trouble.”

The officers used emergency blankets – as well as their own coats, hats and gloves and their hands – to warm the pair. When emergency medical personnel arrived 30 minutes later and were unable to get to the area because of deep snow and locked gates, the officers assisted in carrying the victims on backboards to an ambulance. By the time they reached the ambulance, both had recovered sufficiently that they didn’t need additional treatment.

Feagan said that while it was nice that the officers received the commendation, none of them expected it.

“It was just us out doing what we do,” Feagan said. “This was us doing our jobs.”

The awards were presented to the officers by DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler.

“DNR conservation officers are the first line of defense for our state’s natural resources, but they are also frequently first responders when citizens are in distress,” Hagler said. “This Lifesaving Award recognizes four officers who did their job in an exemplary manner.”

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 duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more about their work at the DNR website

Sign up for the weekly DNR conservation officer academy blog, following recruits as they go through 22 weeks of training during Recruit School No. 7. View all past blogs from this recruit school.

/Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download. Caption information follows.

Four Michigan conservation officers were honored last month with the Michigan DNR Law Enforcement Division’s Lifesaving Award for their role in rescuing two Belle Isle visitors who fell through the ice last spring. Flanked by DNR Law Enforcement Division Assistant Chief Dean Molnar (far left) and Chief Gary Hagler (far right), are (second from left) Officer Michael Drexler, Sgt. Michael Feagan, Sgt. Todd Szyska and Sgt. Ron Kimmerly./ 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to

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