2007-08-30 / Front Page

Star Line's Craig Skutt Saves Lansing Man From Drowning

By Karen Gould

Craig Skutt, a Star Line Ferry employee, saved a man from drowning Saturday, August 18. The man jumped into Lake Huron from Star Line's Mackinac Island dock, sank below the surface, and had stopped breathing before being revived by Mr. Skutt. Craig Skutt, a Star Line Ferry employee, saved a man from drowning Saturday, August 18. The man jumped into Lake Huron from Star Line's Mackinac Island dock, sank below the surface, and had stopped breathing before being revived by Mr. Skutt. Craig Skutt of St. Ignace saved the life of a Lansing man just off just off the Star Line dock on Mackinac Island Saturday, August 18. His lifeguard training, quick thinking, and communication skills saved the man from drowning, his heroic efforts drew praise from the Michigan State Police, and an Island chef named a hero sandwich after him.

The 24-year-old Lansing man, who was found to be intoxicated, climbed beneath the Star Line dock Saturday afternoon. The Mackinac Island Police Department was notified, and Mr. Skutt, a Star Line employee, called the Star Line boats heading to the Island and advised them not to come into the dock to avoid injuring the man. He also tied a rope to a life ring, leaving it on the dock, before climbing under the decking to join the man.

"I asked his name and where he was from," said Mr. Skutt, who wanted to get the man talking so he could convince him to return to the dock and not jump into the water. The man did not cooperate.

"I was trying to be nice to him to get him to come out, and he was just trying to get away from everyone," said Mr. Skutt. "I don't think he realized he was in a bad spot underneath the dock. He could have been pulled under the water by arriving boats."

The man jumped into Lake Huron on the west side of the Star Line dock and started swimming toward the rocks off shore of the Iroquois Hotel. Police officers on the dock threw the life ring to the man twice, said Mr. Skutt, but he swam past it.

"About halfway there, he started going down," said Mr. Skutt. "That's when I went in."

A boat deckhand and dock hand at Star Line since 1999, Mr. Skutt, 35, put past skills to work to save the man's life.

"I used to be a certified life guard," he said.

He was a trained life guard with the Boy Scouts and with the American Red Cross.

"I waited until he went under [the water] before I reached in and grabbed him," recalled Mr. Skutt. "As a lifeguard, you learn not to come in too early or they'll climb on top of you."

The man was about the same build as Mr. Skutt, and he knew waiting was the best way to save the man.

He pulled his head above the water and placed his right arm across the man's chest.

"When I got him to the surface, he wasn't breathing, so I squeezed him and told him to breathe."

The man started to breathe, and Mr. Skutt continued to hold him above water while making his way toward shore.

Michigan State Police Trooper Delynn Rice entered the water and helped get the man to shore. Mackinac Island emergency medical technicians and Island police officers also were on the scene.

Before leaving the Island, the Lansing man thanked Mr. Skutt. Found to be intoxicated, the man was placed in protective custody over night and released the next day, said Sergeant Michael Powell of the State Police Post in St. Ignace.

Sergeant Powell said he has asked the Michigan State Police Awards Board to review the incident and consider Mr. Skutt for a lifesaving or citizen recognition award.

"To me, his actions deemed some form of recognition," he said. "It was a heroic deed."

Fred Rasmussen, the chef at the Village Inn Restaurant on Hoban Street on Mackinac Island, agreed. He decided to make a special hero sandwich and name it after Mr. Skutt.

"When I heard the story," said Mr. Rasmussen, "I thought, well somebody should do something for him. I thought I'd give him a little recognition and say 'nice job.'"

He came up with the eight-inch sandwich and brought one to Mr. Skutt to get his approval before placing it on the August 21 menu.

The Craig Skutt Hero Sandwich contained layers of ham, turkey, and salami on a sour dough roll with a walnut aoili, and mozzarella and parmesan cheese. It was oven toasted and finished with lettuce and tomato.

Mr. Rasmussen served the sandwich to the Star Line crew Tuesday.

Of the sandwich and Mr. Rasmussen, Mr. Skutt said, "It was awesome. He was a nice guy."

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