DNR officer honored for ice rescue of boy

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Patrick Hartsig, right, receives the department's Lifesaving Award and medal on Thursday for his February rescue of a boy from the ice in Delta County. Presenting the award is DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan DNR)

HOUGHTON — Conservation Officer Patrick Hartsig was honored Thursday for rescuing a boy who earlier this year was lost on dangerous Lake Michigan ice in the Upper Peninsula.

Hartsig received the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ DNR’s Lifesaving Award during the regular meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission in Houghton.

On Feb. 5, after completing a snowmobile patrol in an adjacent county, Hartsig responded to a Delta County dispatch call regarding a 10-year-old boy with special needs who had run away from his family in the Gladstone area.

The boy was last seen crossing the ice on Little Bay de Noc.

Because Hartsig regularly patrols Delta County, he had accurate, up-to-date knowledge of areas on the bay that had potentially treacherous ice. Hartsig launched his snowmobile and soon found the boy, who was wandering about one mile from shore. The child had no shoes, hat or gloves despite temperatures in the teens and 25-30 mph winds.

Hartsig, a first aid instructor and former paramedic, removed the boy’s socks and warmed his feet. He then put his own boots, gloves and snowmobile helmet on the child before racing across the ice to the Michigan State Police post in Gladstone, where the boy’s mother, a county sheriff’s deputy and an ambulance were waiting.

“This was a dangerous situation that could have ended tragically,” said Gary Hagler, chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Division, in a news release. “Every minute was critical. But thanks to Conservation Officer Hartsig’s fast response, first-rate training and knowledge of his patrol area, the child was reunited with his family.

“DNR conservation officers have protected Michigan’s citizens and resources for 130 years. It’s officers like Pat Hartsig who maintain our high standards. The dedication and professionalism he displayed make him most deserving of this award.”

Hartsig has been with the DNR for two years, serving Delta County and the surrounding area the entire time. He is a native of Romeo in downstate Macomb County.

Michigan conservation officers are elite, highly trained professionals who serve in every corner of the state. They are fully commissioned peace offers with authority to enforce the state’s criminal laws. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.