Firefighters thankful man, cows survived falling through frozen pond.

February 20, 2019

Walkerville firefighters Brian Hintz, left, and Leonard Amador.

Firefighters thankful man, cows survived falling through frozen pond.


By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

LEAVITT TOWNSHIP – Walkerville firefighters Brian Hintz and Leonard Amador were two of the first responders on scene of a rare rescue, Feb. 6, that involved a man and two cows that had fallen through the ice of a frozen pond near the Village of Walkerville.

When they arrived, the man had managed to get himself out of the icy water, but the beef cows were still in the pond.

“We were dispatched to the scene where a man and two cows had fallen through the ice,” said Hintz, who is also a Hart police officer. “The pond was mostly covered in ice with a bubbler in the middle. One of the cows swam through and got out right away.” But the other cow was struggling to survive.

“We took an aluminum boat and put a rope around the cow to pull it to shore,” Hintz said. The boat was pulled to shore by rescue workers also using a rope. “We were pulling the guys in the boat from shore to bring them back. We had to make a path and break the ice to get the cow the rest of the way out.”

The water was deep and the cow repeatedly went under water, said Amador. “It was pretty weak and kept falling down after it was out of the water.” Rescue workers wrapped the distraught animal in a blanket and rubbed it to increase circulation. Air temperatures that day were in the teens, Hintz recalled.

Other rescue personnel on scene included Walkerville firefighters Nathan Hintz and Noah Vandezande, Assistant Fire Chief Al Purdy and Walkerville Rescue EMT Amanda Vansickle. Officers from the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Natural Resources were also there. “The DNR was there chopping holes in the ice,” Amador said.

Life EMS responded to the scene to examine Mark Riggs, the man who fell in the water. Riggs did not require transport to the hospital, Amador said. The cows do not belong to Riggs — they are owned by his brother-in-law, who lives nearby but was not home at the time of the rescue, the firefighters said. The cows weighed approximately 700 pounds each.

Amador and Hintz said they were initially concerned when they first heard the emergency call because the fire department’s water rescue truck was on a medical call several miles away.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been involved in a rescue like that,” Hintz said of the unique situation.

“Not everybody can say, ‘I rescued two cows,”” Amador said.

The unique rescue luckily has a happy ending as Riggs and the two cows made it out safely. “We’re very glad he was able to get out,” Hintz said of the human survivor.

As for the surviving cows, they’re not “fresh meat” anymore, the firefighters joked, because they were frozen once.

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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