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DNR parks employees honored for lifesaving actions

DNR parks employees honored for lifesaving actions


People come to Michigan state parks to enjoy the great outdoors, but sometimes unexpected circumstances can threaten visitors’ safety and even their lives. For their actions on two such occasions this year, several DNR Parks and Recreation employees were honored with the division’s Lifesaving Awards at Thursday’s Michigan Natural Resources Commission meeting.

On May 14, at Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), a man mushroom hunting in the park’s Jackson Hole Lake area began experiencing chest pains and flagged down seasonal employees Gabe Feller and Walker Truckey, who called the park office. Park ranger Mandy Hills and park manager Tony Trojanowski responded to the scene with the parks’defibrillator. The man’s  chest pains worsened, and 911 was called. Feller and Truckey met emergency personnel at the park office and guided them to the scene. An electrocardiogram determined the man was having a heart attack, and he was taken to Borgess Hospital. The grateful man has since returned to the park to thank everyone involved.

On July 30, in Holland State Park (Ottawa County), during red-flag beach conditions, park officer Dana Skytta observed a 9-year-old boy and his father being swept out of the swim zone toward the park’s north pier. A 12-year-old girl also witnessed this and tried to help the boy, but she was quickly overwhelmed by the wind and water. Skytta quickly entered the water with a life jacket and threw a rescue line to the struggling boy and girl. On his second attempt throwing the line, Skytta was able to pull the fatigued children to shore. The boy’s father had safely reached the beach, too, and everyone was examined by emergency services personnel.

For more on these awards or general information on Michigan state parks, contact Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson at 517-243-1477.

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