Teacher, 76, rescued after fall in icy pond

Police officer, 3 men form chain to pull him out

January 15, 2004|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,SUN STAFF

A McDonogh School history teacher remains in critical condition after a Baltimore County police officer and three men pulled him from the icy waters of a frozen pond at an Owings Mills business park.

Martin McKibbin, 76, who lives near the pond on the McDonogh campus, suffered cardiac arrest during the near-death ordeal and was listed in critical but stable condition at Northwest Hospital Center, police said.

About 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, McKibbin was trying to recover his dog from the frozen pond off the 4500 block of Painters Mill Road when he fell in.

Struggling in water more than 6 feet deep, he was heard calling for help by a man walking across a nearby parking lot. The man, an employee of business park tenant T. Rowe Price, ran into the building for help.

Three other employees, Eric Koutch, 33, Glenn Apperson and Scott Raeke, 34, raced to the pond and spotted McKibbin struggling in the frigid water about 40 feet from shore.

"At one point the man went under then resurfaced," Koutch said.

Moments later, Officer Kyle Blackburn of the Franklin Precinct and Rodney Willis, a police trainee, arrived and parked their patrol car about 300 yards from the pond.

Blackburn removed his heavy gun belt, then sent Willis back to the car for a long rope. "I knew the man wasn't going to last long enough for the rope to arrive, so we formed a rescue chain," Blackburn said.

Gingerly crawling onto the ice with Blackburn up front, the men moved toward McKibbin, who by then had gone under the water again and resurfaced, Blackburn said.

Meanwhile, the golden retriever safely made it to shore.

When the men were just a few feet from McKibbin, the ice -- less than 1-inch thick -- cracked, sending all four rescuers into water that Blackburn said was "over our heads."

The men continued on until Blackburn was able to grab onto McKibbin and keep his head above water.

Struggling, soaked and suffering cuts from the ice, the four men pulled the nearly unconscious McKibbin to shore, where an ambulance was waiting to take him to the hospital.

Once on land, the rescuers were examined by medics and declared in good shape, said Blackburn.

"It was all over in about five minutes, but that was a very, very long five minutes," said Blackburn.

At McDonogh yesterday, McKibbin was in the thoughts of students and staff members. "He is dear to our community and we're praying for a full recovery," said Lynn McKain, director of public relations.

Sun staff writer Sara Neufeld contributed to this article.

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