Law Professors, Lawyer of the Day

Lawyer of the Day: Hero Professor Saves Plane Crash Survivor

University of Chicago Law Professor and Lake Michigan rescuer, Randall Schmidt

University of Chicago law professor Randall Schmidt and his wife, Kristen Berg, can rightly be called heroes. That’s what you call people who rescue others from plane crashes on Lake Michigan.

Their incredible story was picked up in yesterday’s Chicago Daily Herald:

The Park Ridge couple, who rescued the only known survivor of a plane that crashed into Lake Michigan off the state’s western coast Friday, were on the second to last day of their annual boating trip, finishing breakfast on their 42-foot cabin cruiser, the “Kristin Says,” docked in Frankfort, Mich…

Around 10:15 a.m., after they’d been cruising for about an hour, Schmidt heard a fisherman call the U.S. Coast Guard on the radio about a plane in the water, a few miles off the coast of Ludington, Mich.

At that point the couple took immediate action to help the survivors…

After circling the waters, Schmidt and Berg located the pilot of the downed aircraft. The Detroit Free Press reports:

Just before noon, Schmidt slowed his boat down to about 10 knots, when Berg spotted a man in the water about 20 yards away.

“Man overboard!” she screamed. “Man overboard!”

Schmidt stopped the boat, grabbed the life ring and opened the swim platform.

“We see you,” Berg yelled. “We’ll get you.”

Schmidt turned the boat, trying to maneuver the swim platform to him.

“He was upright in the water. He looked up. He never waved or anything. He had his arms crossed,” Schmidt said.

Berg threw the life ring and he grabbed it.

“We pulled him onto my swim platform,” Schmidt said.

He was shivering but conscious.

Schmidt pulled him out, and asked: “Are you hurt?”

“No,” Jerry Freed, the pilot of the Cessna 206, replied.

Sadly, pilot Freed was the only survivor.

“They were all congratulating me and applauding me,” Schmidt said. “… The fact that we couldn’t find the others really made it bittersweet.”

Still, the quick thinking and decisive actions of Professor Schmidt likely saved at least one life. And the professor was more than prepared to deal with the immediate condition of the man he pulled from the water:

Freed was clearly in shock, Schmidt said.

“He would answer my questions but not volunteer information,” he said.

There are probably a lot of UofC law students who respond to Professor Schmidt in exactly the same manner.

‘The adrenaline was flowing’: Park Ridge man describes crash rescue [Chicago Daily Herald]
As pilot is rescued, families still hoping for more survivors [Detroit Free Press]
Search Ends For Lake Michigan Crash Survivors [NPR]

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