Pine Township man assists in rescuing stranded motorists, medic

2014-01-06T16:20:00Z 2014-01-07T19:27:45Z Pine Township man assists in rescuing stranded motorists, medicJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PINE TOWNSHIP | During the height of Sunday's blizzard, Rick Burton got a call asking him to help rescue the father-in-law of a friend of a friend stranded aboutĀ four miles from Burton's home.

The millwright at U.S. Steel in Portage hopped on his snowmobile and headed out to the area of County Road 1500 North.

While that man had already been rescued by the time Burton arrived, the trek began an afternoon and evening odyssey which included helping some eight stranded motorists and transporting a paramedic from a stuck ambulance to the home of a woman suffering chest pains.

"It seemed like there was a grand plan," Burton said Monday morning. "I had been out riding, but it was too bad. I came in and hung up my stuff when I got the call."

Burton, 40, lives on County Road 1100 North.

After he was assured the first man was OK, Burton spotted another stranded motorist and then another. He got them home safe and sound.

Then the stranded ambulance spotted him and got his attention by flashing his headlights at him. He took the paramedic to a woman's home. The woman ended up being fine, so he transported the paramedic back to the ambulance, which had been freed and was parked at a nearby gas station.

Nearly out of gas and with just a little cash on him, Burton said the paramedic paid to put gas in his snowmobile so Burton, himself, wouldn't be stranded.

On the way back home, Burton spotted a couple more stranded motorists and a pickup truck-like fire department vehicle stuck in "really deep snow."

A region native and snowmobile rider for 20 years, Burton said he'd never been called to the rescue like that before.

"Being out last night, it was pretty scary. The visibility was bad. You had to go slow. I kind of know the roads in the area," he said, adding the snow filled ditches were the worst. He said there were dozens of cars stranded in the area. Some were stopped in the middle of the road, making it difficult for plows to get through.

Burton, who was working to clear his own driveway Monday morning, also acknowledged it was a bit of a fun adventure.

"I'm kind of an adrenalin junkie," said Burton, who also races motocross.

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