The new year almost started off on a tragic note for a Chicago man and his dog walking near Lake Michigan on Tuesday. Chris Roberts and his dog Zeus were out stretching their legs when Zeus fell through thin ice and became trapped in the freezing water. Roberts tried to get to him but the frigid temperatures were too much and so called 911 while he watched Zeus cling to life.
The Siberian husky was off leash and about 70 feet from the shore when Roberts, a veteran of the Iraq war, lost sight of him. “I didn’t see him, so I started getting worried. And I started screaming his name, and I got no response. And then I heard him barking,” Roberts said. “It was like a hole right there,” he said. “And I could see water splashing up behind him. And he was crying.”
By the time emergency crews from Chicago Fire Department Dive Team were able to reach him about 30 minutes had passed. “The waves had built up like a berm of ice, so we couldn’t really see past that big ice shelf that was out there,” Department District Chief Ron Dorneker said. Finally divers did spot him and were able to pull him to safety before he froze to death. He was put into an ambulance to be warmed up and is recovering well.
Chief Dorneker warns “The ice is beginning to form on all these lakes and the ponds and the lagoons. And we like to tell people no ice is safe ice,” but he added that Roberts did the right thing by calling for help rather than trying to rescue him on his own. For Roberts, who says Zeus is like a family member, it is a lesson to keep him on leash near any water that appears frozen.