Off-duty firefighter pulls drowning fisherman from frigid waters

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Thursday, January 5, 2012 - 1:31pm

A Chicago man is recovering after falling off of a dock while fishing.

Luckily an off-duty firefighter just happened to be nearby and jumped in to action saving the man's life.

In his six years as a Chicago firefighter, Billy Miller never pulled off a rescue like this one.

"I heard my name, you know 'Bill, Bill'. I turn around and he is in the middle of the harbor, floating," Miller said.

With the lake temperature near freezing and no ladder at the pier this time of year, Miller knew he couldn't pull the water logged man out of the lake by himself.

"I got down on my chest and I hooked my ankle right here on on the back end and i just grabbed him here and held him," he said.

"I have two artificial knees, two artificial shoulders, and two artificial hips. I just could not pull myself out," said fisherman Chuck Wahtola.

With his free hand, miller pulled out his cell phone and called his firehouse.

Within minutes Miller had his back up.

Divers jumped into the water and with ropes police officer and firefighters hoisted Wahtola to safety.

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