Conservation officers assist impaired driver and passenger after vehicle goes off Belle Isle bridge

Contact: : Lt. Todd Szyska, 248-431-6288
Agency: Natural Resources

Partially submerged Cadillac EscaladeMichigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers removed two people from Belle Isle’s Lake Tacoma Saturday night after their vehicle went off the road and into the water. The accident occurred around 10 p.m. on the island’s south side, at the intersection of Picnic Way and The Strand, just northwest of the Dossin Great Lakes Museum.

A 41-year-old Pontiac man told the officers that, after swerving to miss an animal, he lost control of the Cadillac Escalade he was driving and then drove over the curb, off a bridge and into the water.

The first emergency responders on-scene, Conservation Officers Sgt. Damon Owens, Adam Beuthin and Richard Cardenas discovered the Escalade submerged up to its headlights in mucky water, as a female passenger attempted to climb out the front passenger window.

Talking with the woman, the officers determined there were two people in the vehicle and no injuries. Owens instructed her to stay where she was so the officers could toss her a rescue rope.

Next, Michigan State Police officers arrived at the scene and provided a life preserver that Beuthin was able to send down the rope to the woman. She put on the life preserver, climbed out the window and immediately began to sink in the water. Together, the officers pulled the woman to shore where she was given a warming blanket.

The officers next attempted to provide the driver, still in the vehicle, with a life preserver, but he refused. Holding onto the rescue rope, the man climbed out the front passenger window and fell face down, floating in the water. Officers used the rope to pull the man to shore.

Once on shore, the man began stumbling and was unable to walk. Because of the man’s disoriented state, officers put him through standard field sobriety tests, which he failed. He also refused a preliminary breath test and was arrested for operating under the influence. Complaining of pain, the man was transported by ambulance to Detroit Mercy Hospital, where he was held for observation.

After tow trucks were unable to remove the vehicle from Lake Tacoma, a crane arrived and successfully removed it. Conservation Officers Micah Hintze and Brad Silorey cleared the scene Sunday around 9 a.m.

DNR conservation officers and Michigan State Police routinely patrol Belle Isle to ensure public safety within and around the state park.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.

Photo: Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers responded to a partially submerged Cadillac Escalade on the south side of Belle Isle, in Lake Tacoma, late Saturday night. The driver, a 41-year-old Pontiac man, claimed that while swerving to miss an animal he lost control of the vehicle.