Man, woman rescued from SUV partially submerged in Belle Isle lake

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers Saturday responded to a partially submerged Cadillac Escalade in Lake Tacoma on the south side of Belle Isle. The driver, a 41-year-old Pontiac man, claimed he swerved to miss an animal and lost control of the vehicle.

Detroit — State conservation officers rescued two people from a SUV Saturday that wound up in a small lake on Belle Isle, officials said.

The incident happened at about 10 p.m. at the intersection of Picnic Way and The Strand on the island's south side, just northwest of the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said Wednesday. 

The two people were rescued from a Cadillac Escalade that went off the road and ended up in Belle Isle’s Lake Tacoma.

The SUV's driver, a 41-year-old Pontiac man, told officers he swerved to avoid hitting an animal, lost control of his vehicle, drove over a curb, off a bridge and into the water.

Conservation Officers Sgt. Damon Owens, Adam Beuthin and Richard Cardenas found the SUV submerged in the water up to its headlights. A female passenger attempted to climb out the front passenger window, according to authorities.

No one was injured in the crash. 

The officers got help from Michigan State Police troopers and they were able to toss the woman a rope with a life preserver tied to it. She put on the life preserver, climbed out the SUV's window and started to sink in the water. The officers pulled her to shore where she was given a blanket.

Next, they tried to give the driver, who was still in the vehicle, a life preserver. He refused, however, officials said. He grabbed on to the rope and climbed out the front passenger window. He fell face down, officials said, and floated in the water.

The officers used the rope to pull the man to shore. Once on land, the man began stumbling and was unable to walk.

His condition prompted the offices and troopers to put him through field sobriety tests. He failed and refused to take a breath test. Authorities arrested the man for operating a vehicle white intoxicated.

The driver complained of pain and was taken to a hospital for observation.

Tow trucks were unable to remove the SUV from the lake and a crane was used to pull the truck from the water. Conservation officers cleared the area by 9 a.m. Sunday, the DNR said.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez