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Ranger School to the Rescue

Staff, faculty help snowmobilers

Daniel Main of Dexter, New York, walked into the ESF Ranger School main building around 11 a.m. Jan. 11 looking for help. A snowmobile and fishing trailer, driven by his father and uncle, had broken through the ice in the "Narrows" of the Oswegathchie River and sank. Debbra Lawrence, trades generalist at the Ranger School, contacted 911 requesting assistance, and Ranger School staff immediately began a search for the two men.

"Although we initially believed they had emerged on the South Shore, Craig Perrault (maintenance supervisor) found them on Ranger School Road, very close to campus," said Dr. Michael Bridgen, Ranger School director. Perrault took them to the Physical Plant to allow them to dry off and get warm. The state police and the rescue squad from Cranberry Lake came to assist. June McWharf, program aide, used the student laundry to dry their clothes. "The two men were eventually released by the rescue squad, declared healthy," said Bridgen.

Perrault went the "extra mile," plowing snow from the Alumni Campground road, allowing access to the Narrows for an extraction team, said Bridgen. "Although the ice fishing equipment came out readily, the snowmobile itself fell to the bottom of the river." The Star Lake rescue squad offered to sponsor a "training program," retrieving the snowmobile with a diver. The squad worked past 10 p.m. that night, and was gone in the morning, Bridgen said.

Bridgen said the incident drew attention to the close ties in the Ranger School community.

"As it turned out, Daniel had previously visited the Ranger School as a prospective student," Bridgen said. "He is first cousin to Brett Huckabone, RS' 09. His father and uncle were friends to Randy Kerr and his grandson Ian Kerr, both Ranger School alumni."