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Man rescued from St. Mary's River

Two employees at North Shore Industrial Wheel Manufacturing, Chris Alton and John Szczepanik, are being hailed as heroes after they rescued a man who fell today through the ice of the St. Mary's River.
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Two employees at North Shore Industrial Wheel Manufacturing, Chris Alton and John Szczepanik, are being hailed as heroes after they rescued a man who fell today through the ice of the St. Mary's River.

While on lunch break, another coworker, Brad Dear, spotted the man in the river clinging to the ice.

Alton and Szczepanik grabbed a canoe and paddled out to where the man was.

"It took us about five minutes to get out there with the canoe," Alton said. "My main thought was - we have to get him out."

The man looked to be in his 40s or 50s and he wasn't wearing boots, Alton tells SooToday.com

Alton and Szczepanik pulled the man into the canoe and paddled him back to shore, where the fire department took over.

The man had been strong enough to hold onto the canoe when first rescued, but showed little responsiveness on the way back, Alton said.

"He was way out in the middle of the river," said Cathy Nolin, a process & quality coordinator with North Shore Industrial Wheel Manufacturing.

After running outside, employees heard the man cry for help, Nolin said.

"I couldn't believe it because the river had just frozen over on the weekend," she said.

Nolin and Alton agree the man was lucky the company was on its lunch break when he fell through the ice.

Nobody else was on the ice at the time, they said, and nobody would have been around to spot the man in the river they not been in the lunch room.



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