LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – A conservation warden from Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources is being credited with making a heroic river rescue on the Fourth of July.
Warden Ed McCann said it all began when he was patrolling the river just before 11:30 pm that night – along the area near a wing dam by La Crosse's Municipal Boat Harbor.
McCann said the dam, which is essentially a pile of rocks roughly one foot beneath the water's surface, diverts the strong currents in that area, making them tough to battle.
He also said that the high level of the river at this time of year, as well as the fact that it was dark out at the time of his July 4 patrol, would have made it nearly impossible for anyone to fall into the river and swim out to tell the tale.
So McCann said he knew he had to act quickly when he saw a fisherman standing in a boat almost completely submerged by the water night.
"At first it just seemed surreal, just not something I expected to see," McCann said.
"But then, instantly, the training kicked in. I realized the boat was sinking and the person was in distress, so my first reaction was to motor in his direction," he said.
"Then I radioed to dispatch to let them know I had an emergency situation," McCann added.
McCann said he eventually got his patrol boat up close to the fisherman's sinking vessel.
The fisherman then grabbed onto the side of McCann's boat, with McCann also grabbing him for insurance.
Then the former was somehow able to swing himself up into the patrol boat and out of harm's way.
McCann said the fisherman later told him that the sinking boat had been docked on the wing dam, perpendicular to the water, using two anchors.
But with the heavy traffic on the river that night, all the current generated from the passing boats dislodged one of the anchors, causing his boat to begin sinking.
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