Saying Thanks

Ron Weaver thanks (from left) Lake Township Fire Captain Mike Essig, Berrien County Public Safety Dispatcher Melissa Hensley and Lincoln Township Police Officer Ryan Venno, after the three were presented with life saving awards on Jan. 14 at the Lake Charter Township Public Safety Building in Bridgman. Weaver was rescued from an accident in December in which he was trapped in his truck after it flipped over in a ditch filled with water. Presenting the life saving awards was Baroda-Lake Township Police Chief Shawn Martin (far right). - photo by Don Campbell

BRIDGMAN — A man who narrowly escaped drowning last month after his vehicle landed upside down in a flooded ditch got a chance to meet and thank his rescuers on Jan. 14.

“You kept me calm through the whole thing. I can’t thank you enough. I’m very thankful, I was so scared,” Ron Weaver of Baroda told Lake Township Fire Captain Mike Essig, Lincoln Township Police Officer Ryan Venno and Berrien County Public Safety Dispatcher Melissa Hensley. They received life saving awards from Baroda- Lake Township Police Chief Shawn Martin.

They each were also given a gift of a seat belt cutter and window punch, as were Weaver and his wife, Beth.

Weaver, 54, was traveling north on Date Road about 3:45 p.m. Dec. 14 when he swerved to miss hitting a deer. His pickup truck went off the road at Date and Linco roads in Lake Township, and landed upside down. Water from the flooded ditch quickly began to fill the cab of the truck.

Dispatcher Hensley took Weaver’s urgent 911 call, and managed to keep him calm until help arrived.

Within a couple of minutes, Chief Martin and Essig arrived on the scene. They used a window punch to break the driver’s side window and were able to pull him partially out of the vehicle so his head was out of water and he could breathe.

When more emergency responders arrived, including Venno, they were able to pull him all the way out of the vehicle up the muddy ditch and onto land. He was treated at the scene by a Medic 1 ambulance crew, and released.

In an interview after the awards were presented, Weaver said he and his wife live a little over a mile from the accident scene. He said Date Road at Linco is in poor condition and he’s always told his wife, “Somebody’s going to die in that ditch. I just didn’t think it would be me.”

Weaver said as he was suspended upside down in the ditch, with his truck quickly filling with water, he struggled to remove his seat belt and get himself right-side-up in the upside down truck. The water continued to rise inside the truck as Weaver waited for help and spoke with the 911 dispatcher.

“She was just so professional. She kept me calm,” he said.

He contemplated breaking the window, but wasn’t sure he could get out of the truck on his own and thought breaking the window would make the truck fill faster with water.

Weaver said while he was in the truck, he never really thought about dying.

“I just didn’t go there. I was so scared. All I could think about was how to get out of that truck,” he said. “I put my energy into that.”

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