Grosse Pointe Shores officers rescue driver from Lake St. Clair

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 20, 2020

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS — An apparently suicidal woman was rescued from Lake St. Clair thanks to the quick thinking and response of a pair of veteran Grosse Pointe Shores public safety officers.

Grosse Pointe Farms police were called to the area of Provencal and Lake Shore roads at 10:14 p.m. Oct. 8 about a vehicle that had driven into Lake St. Clair. The water in that part of the lake is only about 4 feet deep, a Farms police report states.

The driver, a 44-year-old woman from Chesterfield Township, is said by police to have been walking out toward deeper water when police arrived. Along with Farms officers, Grosse Pointe Shores Public Safety Sgt. James Tassie and officer Jason Rengert also rushed to the scene.

“They responded immediately because of its proximity to our southern border,” Shores Public Safety Director John Schulte said.

Although additional equipment and manpower were en route, Schulte said that, with only personal flotation devices, Tassie and Rengert started heading out into the lake after the woman, who reportedly tried to swim away from them.

“It was pitch black, and they only had the spotlights from their scout cars (to light the way),” Schulte said. “They couldn’t wait. It had to be done immediately. I give my officers a lot of credit for making the quick decision (they did).”

Tassie and Rengert were able to bring the woman back to shore safely.

In a Farms police report, the woman told police she believed her life was not worth living and she was in constant pain. She was taken by ambulance to Ascension St. John Hospital for treatment. Police said they found the woman’s cellphone in her vehicle, and because it was still operational, they were able to call her husband.

Farms officer Keith Colombo broke out a passenger-side window to check for additional occupants in the woman’s vehicle, but none were found.  

After being checked out by medics, Schulte said Tassie and Rengert were found to be uninjured; they were back in service an hour later.

“Our Public Safety Department is second to none,” Shores Mayor Ted Kedzierski said by email. “Our officers’ professionalism and dedication are unparalleled, and since most of our officers are triple trained, they have the unique ability to respond to any range of emergencies. We are so proud of our public safety team.”

Tassie and Rengert could be up for lifesaving awards for their actions. Schulte said that, at the end of the year, a group of Shores Public Safety Department supervisors and officers reviews incidents from the past year and determines which officers should be honored and the level of award they should receive for exemplary service in the line of duty.

If you or anyone you know is thinking of ending their life, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. The hotline is staffed around the clock.