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Witness rescues man who crashed his aircraft into Ackley Lake

VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. -- A man who witnessed a paramotor operator crash into an icy lake, saved him by keeping his head above water and calling 9-1-1, according to the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office.

Around 6:15 p.m. Friday, a citizen in the area of 33rd and Frederick streets saw a person flying in a 'paramotor' used in the sport of 'powered parasailing,' deputies said.

The unit is a backpack with a motor and prop which gives the person lift to their parachute.

The witness said they saw the person at an altitude of about 100 or 200 feet in the air when they heard the motor struggle, followed by a crash.

The witness got into his car to check on the paramotorist, reports said.

He found the person had crashed through the ice on the east end of Ackley Lake.

The witness got onto the lake, which caused the ice to break.

He found the paramotorist underwater. He lifted the man's head above the water and the victim gasped for breath, reports said.

Because the paramotorist still had the equipment strapped to his body, he was too heavy to be pulled from the water. The witness called 9-1-1 and held the victim's head above water until emergency responders arrived and cut the victim from the paramotor.

The crash victim was taken to a local hospital then transferred to a hospital in Kalamazoo.

As of 1 a.m. Saturday, family members said the victim was in critical condition but was breathing on his own.

Van Buren County Sheriff’s deputies were assisted by V.B.E.M.S. and Paw Paw Quick Response, as well as Michigan State Police from the Paw Paw Post.

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