DNR officer’s actions saved life of Gladstone boy

Although some — perhaps a great many — may not realize it, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers are actually sworn police officers who are responsible for enforcing federal and state laws while keeping an eye on wildlife.

Known as fish cops, 13 of these officers have fallen in the line of duty over the years in the state of Michigan. Innumerable others have been involved in saving lives and preventing property losses.

So when word arrived that an Upper Peninsula conservation officer had saved the life of a Gladstone boy, it was completely in keeping with the lengthy, honorable service these men and women give and have given to the state of Michigan, its residents and wildlife.

The Delta County drama involved Conservation Officer Patrick Hartsig, a two-year DNR veteran who was driving near Hunter’s Point on the Stonington Peninsula on a recent Sunday afternoon when his radio reported a missing 10-year-old special needs boy who had reportedly run away from family members from a home along Lake Michigan.

Hartsig, who had put in a shift on snowmobile patrol duty in Alger County earlier that day, knew he was near the reported location of the emergency. He immediately deployed his sled from the trailer he was towing and headed out onto the ice.

“I found him with no shoes on, wandering around about a mile away from shore,” Hartsig said in a press release distributed by the agency. “There was no one around him. There was one old ice shack. No one was in it.”

The boy was wearing jeans, a shirt and a jacket but had no hat or gloves, and his stocking feet were wet and cold.

“He was crying, he was scared and he said his feet hurt,” Hartsig said.

Hartsig bundled the boy up as best he could, warming his wet feet before heading back to shore to the Michigan State Police post in Gladstone, which is near the shoreline. With emergency services personnel standing by, the boy was quickly reunited with family.

Hartsig’s quick action, training and experience is credited with saving the boy’s life. To the chorus of congratulations, we’d add ours. Patrick Hartsig is a credit to the DNR and the entire state.

We are fortunate to have him on patrol in our neck of the woods.