Woman rescued after falling through ice on the St. Louis RiverA Carlton County Sheriff’s deputy and a Cloquet police corporal linked themselves together across the St. Louis River ice to drag a Moose Lake woman to safety Sunday after she fell in trying to rescue her two dogs.
By: Janna Goerdt, Duluth News Tribune, Pine Journal
A Carlton County Sheriff’s deputy and a Cloquet police corporal linked themselves together across the St. Louis River ice to drag a Moose Lake woman to safety Sunday after she fell in trying to rescue her two dogs.
Deputy Randy Roberts and Cpl. Mark Laine responded to a call for help after Jacquie Jugasek, 26, fell through the ice near Cloquet’s Spafford Park, beneath the Highway 33 bridge about 3 p.m.
She said she had been attempting to rescue her dogs Maddie and Bud after they ran onto the ice and fell through.
“All I was thinking was getting to my dogs and saving them,” she said Monday, “As soon as I dropped through, I still didn’t think about a thing but my dogs.”
Roberts was only a quarter-mile from the scene when the call went out, and he quickly joined Cloquet police at the river shoreline. “We were scrambling to figure out what we were going to do,” he said.
Jugasek kept motioning to reach her dogs, and the emergency responders were pleading with her to stay put. Roberts is part of the county’s dive team and has participated in water rescues before, but no one had their cold water rescue suits and the Cloquet Area Fire District responders were still en route.
“I looked at Mark Laine and said, ‘I’m not going to watch her die,’ ” Roberts said. He shed his vest and utility belt and began crawling toward Jugasek, who was about 25 yards off shore.
Laine followed behind, holding onto Roberts’ ankles in case the ice gave way beneath him, too. The duo reached Jugasek, who was coherent but unable to get out of the water that Roberts estimated at 8 to 10 feet deep.
Roberts grabbed hold of her, dragged her from the water and back to shore.
“When they were pulling me out, then Maddie just started crying and crying,” Jugasek said of her Westie, a gift for graduating college in 2004.
“The last thing I heard was her crying when they were pulling me out of the water and that was it.”
Freed from the water, Jugasek seemed to be in the initial stages of hypothermia, Roberts said. She was transported to Cloquet’s Community Memorial Hospital where she was treated and released.
Meanwhile, members of the fire district had arrived, and they entered the water and rescued Bud, Jugasek’s goden retriever.
Jugasek said she brought the dogs to the area to run and play, and brought a ball for Bud.
“I threw the ball for Bud, and Maddie took off because there was geese out in the river,” she said.
Fire district Battalion Chief Steve Kolodge said the department will often attempt to rescue stranded animals, not because the animals are a high priority, but because “people oftentimes will go after their pet with disregard for their own safety,” he said.
“The cat’s not what we worry about; it’s the people that go after the cat.”
As for Roberts and Laine — well, it’s their job, Roberts said. And it’s becoming a familiar one for the police corporal.
Laine and seven other area emergency responders were honored with a Lifesaving Award in 2005 for another cold-water rescue from the St. Louis River: The responders waded into the October-cold river to manually lift a car that had flipped over on its roof just enough so the trapped driver could be pulled from the vehicle.
“We take the risk, and weigh the risks,” Roberts said. “We’re not going to do something that will absolutely get us killed, but we’re hired to solve the problem, and that’s what we do.”
Though grateful to the responders, Jugasek mourned her lost dog. “She was my baby,” she said. “Whenever I’m sad, there was Maddie to lick my tears and to be there with me when I’m sad, and now she’s gone.”
River and lake ice is becoming extremely unsafe, according to Area firefighters.