Grosse Pointe Shores officer rescues driver from Lake St. Clair

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 27, 2018

 Grosse Pointe Shores Public Safety Officer Tony Spina, left, seen here at an awards ceremony in 2017 with Officer Jason Rengert and Detective Lt. Scott Rohr, pulled a driver to safety after the motorist drove into Lake St. Clair during the early morning Dec. 27.

Grosse Pointe Shores Public Safety Officer Tony Spina, left, seen here at an awards ceremony in 2017 with Officer Jason Rengert and Detective Lt. Scott Rohr, pulled a driver to safety after the motorist drove into Lake St. Clair during the early morning Dec. 27.

File photo by K. Michelle Moran

SHORES — A seasoned Grosse Pointe Shores Public Safety officer rescued a young man from the water after he drove into Lake St. Clair in the early morning hours Dec. 27.

Shores Public Safety Director John Schulte said that at around 5 a.m. Dec. 27, a Grosse Pointe Woods man in his early 20s was traveling eastbound in a family car on Lochmoor Boulevard when he failed to stop at Lake Shore Road. The driver ended up going into Lake St. Clair. Police received a notification from the vehicle’s navigation system about the accident, after which they sprang into action.

The first officers on the scene saw that the vehicle was near the breakwall and tried to rescue the driver, but the vehicle continued to move away from the breakwall. Schulte said Officer Tony Spina — an experienced diver — headed into the icy water, risking his own life to pull the driver to safety.

“He’s very knowledgeable in these situations, and his quick response saved this individual,” Schulte said of Spina. 

The driver was taken to a local hospital for treatment, but no other information about his condition was available at press time.

Spina didn’t have time to change from his uniform into diving gear because he needed to act immediately, Schulte said. The longer someone is in the water, the greater the risk for hypothermia setting in.

“They did an excellent job,” Schulte said of the officers who responded to the accident scene. “They responded quickly.”

At press time, Schulte said Spina was in good condition. Spina has been an officer in the Shores for 18 years. He will likely be honored for his work to rescue the driver.

“His supervisor will most likely submit (information about this incident) for a lifesaving award (for Spina),” Schulte said.

An investigation into the accident was ongoing at press time.