Michigan Conservation Officers were in the right place at the right time when they came upon a woman clinging to a log in the fast moving Manistee River. She had been swimming with friends when she became overcome by the current, and was seen by CO Sam Koscinski and CO Scott MacNeill during a routine riverine patrol. She was clinging to a log and was entangled in fishing hooks and lines, barely keeping her head above the fast moving water.
Battling the river current, Koscinski controlled the DNR boat as it fought additional current created from water hitting Aldridge’s body. He then positioned the boat to provide Aldridge support while MacNeill reached over the bow to temporarily secure Aldridge in a lifejacket.
MacNeill cut the fish lines attached to the hooks in Aldridge’s arm. When Aldridge broke free from the original lines, Koscinski maintained the boat to protect Aldridge from the strong current. Holding onto the boat, Aldridge’s legs became tangled in additional hooks and lines – the force of her body causing the bow of the boat to drop further into the water.
Officer Koscinski controlled the boat while MacNeill held Aldridge, and provided her a knife to free her legs from the lines. In a state of shock, Aldridge was pulled into the boat where she was able to recover.
As a professional flyfishing guide, I have had a great many interactions with wildlife officers in a half-dozen states. Virtually all of them are consummate professionals, and care deeply for the resources they are charged with protecting. Most are pretty good folks, being fishermen and hunters themselves. The relationship between responsible sportsmen and wildlife officials is critical in the fight against poaching.
I am not the least bit surprised to hear a tale of heroism from among their ranks. Law enforcement personnel have no legal duty to risk their lives to protect you. However, the overwhelming majority gladly will, and are to be lauded for it.