Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Trooper/Firefighters Rescue 82 Year-Old Man Lost In Huckleberry Swamp

When 82 year-old John Wood of Rose decided to take a leisurely ride, he had no idea of the adventure he would experience. He unfortunately got his vehicle stuck in some mud near the Huckleberry Swamp off Catchpole Road in Rose. No problem! Thought Wood, he would simply walk back to his house and return for the vehicle later.

As night time fell on Monday (10/14) John took off in what he thought was the direction of his home. Soon, John was lost in the 79 acre swamp preserve and it was getting dark.

Luckily, John had his cell phone and called for his grandson, Ryan Wood. It took Ryan a while to find his grandfather, but it was so dark and by then both men had lost their bearings.

With cell phone still working Emergency 911 soon became involved. Recently assigned to Wolcott, State Trooper Greg Szulis, had just started his shift when the call came in. He arrived on the scene first. Firefighter Rose Chief Jim Smith arrived next and called for mutual aid from North Rose. He figured the North Rose infrared camera may be needed to find the lost men

Both Greg and Jim could hear the men calling, but the direction of their pleas could not be determined in the pitch black, swampy conditions.

Szulis, along with firefighters in full protective gear Bryce Shipley from Rose and Mark Anthony, Assistant Chief from North Rose entered the swamp. “At times it was waste deep,” recalled the uniformed Trooper. It took over an hour to find the lost men, as Greg stayed on the phone with 911, trying to triangulate their position through GPS.
Once the two men were located, Trooper Szulis learned that John Wood was diabetic. John held on to the back of Greg’s shoulders as the group waded through dangerous grounds. “I know that area. There are sink holes out there,” said Chief Smith.

Other firefighters marked the way with lights leading the party to paths. John was then loaded on a stokes basket and carried the rest of the way to awaiting medical personnel. He was given a sweet to bring his blood sugar in line and refused any other treatment.

“It was a little bit scary at first and it took a couple of hours, but we were successful,” assured Chief Smith.
Trooper Szulis retreated back to his Wolcottt station, soaked and cold from the rescue. A hot shower and change of uniform followed. He also hosed off his very smelly, mud-encrusted uniform before he went back on the road to complete his 12 hour shift.

The rescue team was assisted by the Medic 92 from Clyde and the North Rose Ambulance.