ST. CHARLES – Four St. Charles firefighters were honored for risking their own lives to rescue two adults and one teenager who were stuck in a disabled boat that was heading for the dam on the Fox River on June 30.
St. Charles Fire Lt. Dave Chmelar along with Firefighter Paramedic Mike Pyzyna, Firefighter Paramedic Chad Tinsley and Firefighter Paramedic Brandon Paus were honored at the Aug. 5 St. Charles City Council meeting.
According to St. Charles Fire Chief Joe Schelstreet, the boat had lost power and the anchor line for the boat was not holding, resulting in the boat drifting toward the dam. Adding to the danger was an approaching storm.
"At this time, a severe storm containing high winds impacted the area," Schelstreet said, in describing the scene for those attending the City Council meeting. "These winds greatly exaggerated the speed in which the stricken boat was traveling towards the dam."
The firefighters launched a rescue boat from Pottawatomie Park and reached the three people just as their distressed boat approached the dam and went over it. As Schelstreet pointed out, the firefighters literally only had seconds to rescue them.
"The elapsed time between the successful rescue and when the stricken boat went over the dam was approximately 40 seconds," said Schelstreet before showing a video of the rescue.
The three people were transported to the public dock just north of the St. Charles police station. They were not hurt.
Schelstreet also commended the firefighters for the way they reacted to the situation and doing exactly what they were trained to do.
"As you saw, they didn't make any mistakes, and we are really proud of them," he said.