The quick thinking of a 6-year-old and the fast actions of neighbors and the helped save a man’s life Sunday.
Dennis Charette, a Holt resident in his 50s, who was visiting his parents on the 10000 block of Lakeshore Drive in Tyrone Township, fell through the ice of Runyan Lake after going out to rescue his dog just before 2 p.m. Sunday. Charette got to the dog, but then fell through the ice about 100 yards from the shore and couldn't get back.
While neighbor Cheryl Collard saw Charette and called 911, her 6-year-old granddaughter Abby Diener ran to get help from neighbors. T.J. Farren and Michael Palmer Hillier Jr. were working on a truck in a nearby garage when Abby came running up for help.
“I went over there all by myself as fast as I could and got them,” Abby said.
“She said ‘Dennis is drowning, hurry up,’ Farren said. “It was like something out of a book. We ran out to see where he was.”
Palmer Hillier then dragged a nearby canoe to the water and Farren went out and was able to get to Charette, who held on to the side of boat. They were able to make it about 30 feet back towards shore before Fenton firefighters arrived in ice rescue gear and dragged them the rest of the way in.
Charette was conscious and alert when he was pulled out of the water. Neighbor Wayne Collard said he was in the water for 30 to 45 minutes and said he was having troubling breathing when he finally reached shore. Charette was transported to Genesys Regional Medical Center, Fenton Fire Chief Robert Cairnduff said.
Wayne Collard said he talked to Charette’s family about an hour after the incident and said Charette was still shaking, but in good condition.
“He was in distress from the cold,” said Cairnduff, who added that there was only about one inch of ice in the area.
Farren said he wasn’t sure how Charette got out so far without falling through earlier.
The dog also survived and is in good condition.
Abby’s grandparents said they were very proud of her running to get help.
“I called 911 and thank God I did,” Cheryl Collard said. “Abby thought quickly to get the neighbors.”
Cairnduff warned residents to be careful on the ice, especially with the unseasonably warm weather this winter.
“There's still a lot of open water," he said. "I know people love their pets, but people should call for help before trying to rescue an animal.”