A quick thinking Indiana Department of Natural Resources employee wasted no time rescuing a married couple who fell through the ice while ice fishing at a Newton County lake Thursday.
According to DNR press release, at around noon two close-by fisherman saw the couple fall into J.C. Murphy Lake in Willow Slough near Morocco. The fisherman immediately called the slough property office. Willow Slough worker, Greg Rainford answered the call and immediately hopped in a truck racing to a pier where he spotted the couple. Reports say the pair were some 350 yards from shore in 36 degree water that was at least six feet deep.
After an effort to reach the couple with a 25 foot throw rope failed, Rainford grabbed the man's hand pulling him from the water. Meanwhile, the two anglers who made the call pulled the woman to safety using the rope. Paramedics then evaluated the couple on the scene and found them to be cold and wet, but otherwise unharmed.
Rainford says the ice on the lake Thursday was only four inches thick but appeared thicker on top but was "honeycombed" underneath. “It’s deceiving,” added Rainford.
No ice is safe ice, according to Indiana Conservation Officer Lt. William Browne. Conservation officers tell anglers to know how stable the ice is before they get on it, to make themselves as buoyant as possible with life jackets and float coats, and to never ice fish alone.
“When it’s warm outside, beware of thinning ice,” Browne said.
The fishing accident was the second time in two years that Rainford has earned recognition for job performance. In 2013, he earned a DNR Fish & Wildlife Award of Excellence for his leadership and willingness to mentor new employees. Rainford has worked at Willow Slough for 29 years.
“We’re real lucky to have Greg and employees like him,” Kershaw said. “I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”