Roscommon Co. Emergency Responders ‘Spare No Expense’ To Save Men Who Fell Through Ice

Warm temperatures and thin ice ended with people hearing cries for help on Lake St. Helen on Tuesday night.

A Roscommon County Sheriff’s Department airboat, along with a second airboat from Lake Township and many other responders from several townships went out to the scene.

Both were saved and sent to the hospital.

The rescue mission was both massive — and expensive.

The Roscommon County undersheriff says agencies like his and the Richfield Township Department of Public Safety spare no expense, with the same going for every other agency that responded in a case like Tuesday night, but using tools like airboats can all start to become quite costly.

Two men found themselves trapped in the ice on Lake St. Helen for about 40 minutes as the light began to fade.

A large-scale rescue mission ensued.

“Multiple fire trucks, ambulance, patrol cars went to find the location, find where they were,” says Frank Anthony, chief of police at the Richfield Township Department of Public Safety. “That took some time.”

Luckily, the men stood on top of their ATV, mostly out of the water, but the Richfield Township police chief says a mission like this comes with several costs.

“The biggest thing is tying up all of the resources and that in that one kind of incident, you are going to use everything you have,” Anthony says. “You are going to have ambulances. You don’t know how many people’s there. You are going to have several fire trucks, police cars in the area, all trying to locate the victims and all the while they are not going to be available for other calls.”

Undersheriff Ben Lowe says last night’s operation, including equipment, deputies, and airboat personnel, is estimated to have cost around $1,500.

In the past, Chief Anthony says Richfield Township has seen much higher costs, potentially ranging from $4,000 to $5,000 at times.

“It can be very costly depending on how long you are out there,” Lowe says. “When you have all of these different agencies that are activating multiple people and paying all of these people to come in, most of them on their time off, the bills rack up very quickly.”

In the end, it’s not about the money.

“Anything that we deal with, you can’t put a cost on lives,” Lowe says.

The sheriff’s department does want to warn people to not venture out onto the ice this time of year.