By Jim Woods
The Columbus Dispatch
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A man stuck in a floating chunk of ice on the Scioto River probably owes his life to a Columbus police helicopter pilot who was flying over the South Side neighborhood yesterday afternoon.
Officer Jeff Ferguson said he lowered his helicopter over the water so the man could grab the chopper's skid. He then pulled the man closer to shore, where Columbus police officers threw him a floating device so he could be pulled ashore.
"If Jeff hadn't done that, the guy would have drowned," said Lt. Greg Estep of the Columbus police helicopter unit.
The man, whose name was not available, was treated at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center and is expected to be fine.
The call came in just after 5 p.m. that a man was drowning in the middle of the Scioto River, just south of the Greenlawn Avenue bridge. The man had been fishing when he fell through ice, which floated to the middle of the river, police said.
Ferguson and his co-pilot, Officer Jim Cox, whom Ferguson was training, were flying over Lou Berliner Park.
"He had his arms up on the ice shelf," Ferguson said of the man in the water. "He looked like he was losing his grip, and his color was draining."
Cox kept a close watch so that Ferguson could lower the helicopter about a foot over the man.
Cox said afterward: "This is absolutely the most awesome thing I've experienced in my whole life."
Copyright 2014 The Columbus Dispatch
McClatchy-Tribune News Service