Coast Guard members who pulled man from Detroit River talk about rescue effort

DETROIT (WXYZ) - We've seen the rescue from the skies, now we're getting the minute-to-minute details behind the Coast Guard's life saving act on the Detroit River.

The call came late Monday afternoon, around the vicinity of the Riverwalk near Coast Guard Sector Detroit.  Construction workers noticed a man far off into the water and crews knew that water was too cold for anyone to be exposed for too long.

When waves of emergency calls come in, Belle Isle's US Coast Guard personnel come prepared for anything - a big reason why Monday's rescue proved to be life saving for a man found unresponsive in the Detroit River.

"We didn't see him swimming, but the report we got was that he was swimming, and then they lost visual on him," says Thomas Chegin of the Coast Guard. "He was backstroking is the report we got."

The Coast Guard says the rescue would not have happened without the keen observation of Seaman Shanna Irwin

"They're all waving their arms, pointing that way. So we start scooting down that way," Irwin says. "And I see like a blob in the water. And so I holler out, ‘Ahh, turn around! There's somebody. I see something!'"

It may be getting warmer, but the Coast Guard says exposure to the frigid water could cause death in minutes."

Yesterday the water was at 34 degrees; today it's at 37 degrees.

In situations where minutes could be the difference between life and death rescue personnel say staying prepared is key.

Irwin "It was like training paid off," Irwin says. "We all knew what we were going to do. The crew was awesome. They pulled the guy out in like seconds. They yanked him out really quick."

The man who was rescued was taken to St. John Hospital in Detroit. His condition is unknown at this time. 

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