December 22, 2014

Firefighters detail daring snowmobiler rescue

The 47-year-old Fond du Lac man who was rescued from Lake Winnebago after his snowmobile went into open water last Friday night, truly is lucky to be alive. The two firefighters credited with saving his life talked about the experience with the press Tuesday. Lieutenant Rick Gerritson says it was a quiet night and the wind carried Kelly Milam’s voice, which led to the 911 calls and his rescue.

Paramedic Jake Vogds says he and Gerritson had to walk on ice, through open water, and break through ice to get to Milam. They were in cold water suits and stood in water up to their chins to help Milam out of the water. 

Vodgs says Milam had already lost muscle control and was suffering from severe hypothermia. He says it was a matter of minutes before the situation would have become a life or death scenario.

Other snowmobilers this winter have not been as fortunate as Milam. Wisconsin has recorded six deaths from snowmobile crashes. The latest victim is 70-year-old William Donker of Appleton, who died late Monday afternoon near Wabeno in Forest County. The DNR says Donker’s machine left a snowmobile trail when it struck a tree.

Bob Nelson-KFIZ and Ken Krall-WXPR contributed to this report