An Apple Valley man is being credited with rescuing a woman who fell through the ice on the Minnesota River in Bloomington, on New Year’s Day.
Mike Torp said he’s just happy he was in the right place at the right time.
“After I pulled her from the river it was probably 10 minutes before we came across another person. I don’t know what she would have done had I not been there. It’s hard to think about,” he said in an interview Jan. 7.
Torp is a member of Sketchy Cycling, a group of friends, many from Apple Valley, who get together to ride bikes on a regular basis. He said they frequently ride through the Minnesota River bottoms, usually twice a week.
On Jan. 1 the group was supposed to meet for a morning ride, but it was canceled when one of them couldn’t make it. Torp still wanted to get out for a ride so he decided to go alone in the afternoon, which was unusual for him, he said.
Torp was out riding his fat bicycle in the Minnesota River bottoms around 4:30 or 5 p.m. He parked and started his ride near the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge.
When he got to within a half mile of the Interstate 35W bridge near Lyndale Avenue, he looked to his left at the Minnesota River and saw a woman with two golden retrievers, he said.
The woman was crouched on the edge of the ice, which extended about 15 to 20 feet from shore before there was open water. One of the dogs was in the water and the woman was trying to pull it out. Torp said he stopped because he knew the woman would likely need some help. The second dog was on the edge of the ice next to her and it suddenly went into the water. A few seconds after the second dog went in, the woman also went through the ice, Torp said.
Torp quickly thought of what he could use to push out to the woman to pull her back to shore and grabbed his bicycle. He laid on the ice near shore and pushed his bicycle out to the woman. She grabbed the front wheel and pushed both dogs out of the water before being pulled back to shore by Torp, he said.
After the woman got out of the water, Torp shared his coat and gloves to help her get warm. The woman said her house was nearby so he first tried to walk her back. After a little while Torp realized the woman was confused about her surroundings and decided to contact police when they couldn’t reach her mother by phone.
Torp said they met Bloomington police at the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge. According to the police department, the woman refused medical treatment. She and the dogs were driven to a family member’s home.
“I would like to acknowledge the actions of the citizen on the bike who rescued the victim from the water. His quick and calculated response quite possibly prevented this incident from ending tragically,” Deputy Police Chief Mike Hartley said in a statement.
Torp said this was his first experience with someone falling through ice, but he’s gotten water rescue training through being a Boy Scout leader. He urged people to stay away from ice on rivers because of its unpredictability.
If in a situation to help a person falling through ice, try using objects like a tree limb, a ladder or even a bike to pull someone back to shore and avoid going out to the edge of the ice, Torp said.
Torp said he has since exchanged some text messages with the woman’s mother and heard the woman was doing well after incident.
“I just feel really lucky those pieces fell into place,” he said.
Patty Dexter can be reached at email@example.com.