Granger man clings to life after fall in pond

Published 10:55 am Wednesday, July 23, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- A Granger, Ind., man is clinging to life in Lakeland Hospital, Niles, after falling into a pond on property on Redfield Road near Batchelor Road in Milton Township.
According to a Michigan State Police Post 53 press release, Richard Wetzel, 76, was found by his wife lying face-down in a pond on their private Michigan property where the couple operates a tree farm.
While attempting to retrieve her husband from the pond, Wetzel's wife continually yelled for assistance, the press release said.
Chris Hafer, who lives on a neighboring property, said he was leaving to go shopping when he and his mother heard the cry for help.
The seven-year veteran with the Niles Township Fire Department and his mother immediately tried to locate where the cry came from.
The two found the scene of the incident and saw Wetzel's wife struggling to pull her husband entirely out of the pond.
Hafer's mother then immediately called 9-1-1.
Having received basic emergency and first aid training as a volunteer fire fighter, Hafer helped pull Wetzel onto dry land before starting CPR and emergency first aid with Wetzel's wife.
While doing CPR, the wife told Hafer she thought her husband had been under water for 10 minutes.
Hafer said he and Wetzel's wife did CPR for about seven minutes from the time the 9-1-1 call was made until SMCAS in Niles arrived and took over.
Cass County Sheriff's Department and Michigan State Police assisted in the rescue, Hafer said.
According to the State Police Post 53 press release, Wetzel was subsequently transported to Lakeland Hospital in Niles where he is currently in the intensive care unit.
The press release issued on Tuesday said Wetzel was still in critical condition at Lakeland.
Hafer said he knew some of his neighbors had talked to Wetzel and his wife before.
Hafer said while talking with Wetzel's wife, she told him the two had been working on their property when Richard decided to go for a walk.
After a while, his wife started looking for him and eventually found him lying face-down in the pond.
Although Hafer has been a volunteer fire fighter for seven years, Monday's incident was the first time he had to do CPR himself.