It was more than a case of being in the right place at the right time when Chicago SWAT officers Shane Coleman and Peter Jonas pulled a man from the frozen waters of Lake Michigan Saturday Morning.
They had to be ready to act and act quickly, and that's exactly what they did.
A 22-year-old Chicago man had slipped from the treacherous ice along the Lakefront Bike Path and was struggling in the 25-degree water.
A guest in a hotel along the 600 block of North Lake Shore Drive saw it happen and called 9-1-1. But when a fire rescue team arrived, they couldn’t see the man in the water from their vantage point on the roadway.
Jonas and Coleman came in by way of the lower bike path, and immediately spotted the man in the water.
“When you see a guy bobbing in the water, (a) kind of adrenaline kicks in,” SWAT Officer Shane Coleman said Wednesday at a police news conference. “You don't really think about the cold or the rocky ice. I mean it was tough floating out there, but it was just kind of less thinking and more doing it was just, you know, there's a guy in the water.”
Coleman and Jonas immediately tossed off their bullet-proof vests and positioned themselves so that one could reach the victims and the other could hold on to his partner.
“We're just trying to get there as quickly as possible without slipping on the ice,” Coleman’s partner Pete Jonas said. “We just get down into a prone position to where we were able to actually reach in and grab him out.”
The process took only minutes. After the man was out of the water, the Fire Department warmed the warmed him and took him to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.
After the dramatic rescue, the officers stopped to check on him later that day.
“It was pretty cool, Coleman said. “You know, being so close to the incident, a few short hours later, we were able to meet him and meet his father and it was, it was a good experience.”
Coleman and Jonas say they were just doing their job, but their boss, 20-year SWAT Commander Thomas Lamb, knows better.
“I think that was it was exceptional work without hesitation, without fear," Lamb said, praising his whole team for their bravery in the line of duty.
Police say the victim has since been released from the hospital and is currently recovering at home.
According to Commander Sean Loughran of the Chicago Police Special Functions Unit, this is the 86th time members of the SWAT team have been recommended for the Chicago Police Life Saving Award.