Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 21, 2013

Snowmobiler rescued after fall through ice

SUTTONS BAY — An off-duty Michigan State Police trooper was rescued Tuesday after his snowmobile fell through the ice on South Lake Leelanau.

Michael S. Mihalic, 41, Traverse City, spent about 25 minutes in the water after his vehicle broke through thin ice north of Linguar Road in Leland Township at about 9:48 p.m. According to the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office, he was snowmobiling with a companion who managed to get through the water to the west shore and call Leelanau Dispatch.

Sheriff’s deputies and rescue personnel from the Leland and Suttons Bay fire departments arrived to find Mihalic clinging to the ice about 40 to 50 yards from shore. He was pulled to safety after a Leland Rescue member went on the ice and attached a rope.

A sheriff’s office news release credits Mihalic for remaining calm until his rescue. He told authorities that he believed he could only have held on for five more minutes.

Lt. Clint Kerr said Mihalic was transported and later released from Munson Medical Center, where he received treatment for exposure. He is expected to make a full recovery.

“He’s just a citizen for us, but he happens to be a state trooper,” Kerr said.

Mihalic could not be reached for comment. Michigan State Police Sgt. Scott Bates said Mihalic is assigned out of the Cadillac Post and covers Leelanau County.

Kerr said alcohol was not a factor in the accident and results from a portable breathalyzer test were negative. He said snowmobile accidents involving ice are not common, but people should proceed with even more caution as temperatures rise.

“It’s not very often, but this is the time of year,” he said.

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