The Story That Just Couldn’t Wait Till Sunday 3/1/2013

Header:  Larry Rickley and Jason St. Onge watch while crew member descends ladder from freighter.  (Photo credit:  Clark Bloswick)

Hi All!

I bet you were surprised to see this pop up in your email or on your Facebook Account, but this is a story that just couldn’t wait until Sunday, so I’m sending it out now!

I’ve often spoken about the volunteers who make up the Mackinac Island Fire Department and what an unbelievably brave, hard-working, and spirited group they are.  Nothing could make that statement come to life more than what they accomplished this week.

Here is the story in the words of Jason St. Onge, the Assistant Fire Chief of Mackinac Island, followed by a news story and a telephone interview from

“The MIFD received a call this morning from the freighter /tug “Michigan” that a crew member’s mother had passed, and the Coast Guard was unable to retrieve the man. The vessel had been laid up in the ice now for several days. Assistant Chief St. Onge took the call, conferred with Chief Bradley and Assistant Chief Barnwell, and the MIFD put a plan together to assist the man to shore.


Steve Zacharias, Craig Bunker, Larry Rickley, and Jason St. Onge approach the freighter/tug Michigan. (Photo Credit: Clark Bloswick)

Using all the ice/water rescue gear available, the MIFD walked out to the vessel, waited for the man to be lowered down and brought him to shore, where waiting snowmobiles took him to the airport to head to his home port of Rogers City.It was a complete team effort by the MIFD, with four men walking on the ice, and many more staged along the route and shore as back-up in case of emergency.

Certainly some will say that it was an unnecessary risk; however, put yourself in the shoes of the MIFD.  A man has lost his mom and desperately needs to get home – tough to say “no”. I would also like to think that if a citizen of Mackinac Island was in a similar situation in a far off place that the local fire department would render them the appropriate aid.”

Here’s the video:

And here is the radio interview with Jason St. Onge:

A huge thank you to our Mackinac Island Fire Department for going above and way beyond so this young man could get off the freighter in time to attend his mother’s funeral.  You guys are awesome!

16 thoughts on “The Story That Just Couldn’t Wait Till Sunday 3/1/2013

  1. Wonderful story. Their generosity will never be forgotten by the man they assisted, and his family. A great deed.

  2. I followed this on FB – Clark’s photos are amazing! What impresses me most is how simple it was! No helicopters, fancy rigging, weird machines or vehicles. Just four men walking (carefully!) out and five men walking back. With all the appropriate back-ups and support, but still, just walking.

  3. The MIFD is amazing! This is what I just love about the Island, people who care about others as if they were part of their community. Be proud of yourselves MIFD!!

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