Wis. firefighter suffers close call in underwater rescue

Officials said a firefighter became stuck after diving into freezing water to reach a submerged vehicle that had been the center of a police chase

By News Staff

MILWAUKEE — A firefighter experienced a close call while rescuing a woman from a submerged vehicle.

TMJ4 reported that the unidentified Milwaukee Fire Department diver was part of a crew that responded to a call about a vehicle that drove through a construction site and landed in the Kinnickinnic River after being chased by police.

Deputy Chief Aaron Lipski said conditions were bad during the response, with freezing temperatures, sleet and strong currents, and the diver became stuck after reaching the vehicle and the woman inside of it.

"When you hear these things it absolutely makes your heart stop," Lipski said.

The firefighter, who is a 15-year veteran of the department, was rescued by his colleagues after communicating with them.

"In this firefighter's own words he credits the level of training and the intensity and the frequency of his training for getting him through what, in most people, would create a hysteria, a panic situation,” Lipski said. “In this case he felt that internal panic, but he was able to focus and work himself through those steps he learned in training to keep himself calm and start working through this disentanglement.”

Lipski said the firefighter is recovering at home with his family.

"He’s a doer, a helper. He wants to be in the action, that’s why he’s here. Now, I’m glad to be able to describe him to you in this way instead of in the past tense. It shakes you to your core," he said.

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