Posted on Feb 2, 2020 Updated on May 19, 2021, 4:30 pm CDT
A woman whose rescue was filmed after she fell through the ice on a lake in Michigan says she’s been body-shamed since the clip of her saving went viral.
The video of Korissa Miller was posted to the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department’s Facebook page earlier this week. It was there as a means to warn others about the dangers of ice fishing.
On 1/27/20 at 3:20pm, this young lady was fishing off of docks in Harrison Township. As she attempted to stand up, she lost her footing and slipped off the dock into the freezing water. The young lady’s friend was a dock over and heard her fall; she looked over to see her friend struggling in the icy waters. Her friend was unable to pull her up to the dock and the young lady’s body began to go numb. Two nearby fisherman heard the women’s cries and came over to help. The two fisherman attempted to pull the woman up onto the dock but struggled as the young lady’s body had become completely numb and she was unable to move. Her friend called for help as the fisherman held on to the young lady keeping her from slipping underwater and surely drowning. The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office along with the Harrison Fire Department arrived on scene and were able to pull the young lady from the 36 degree water. She was believed to be in the water for approximately 15 minutes.The young lady is doing better today but wants to remind people to always fish with a partner and make sure you have proper, non-slip, footwear when you walking on any slippery surface. She is forever grateful to her friend and the fisherman that saved her life. We thank them as well. What you need to know if you happen to fall into cold water. • Don't panic. Try to get control of your breathing. Hold onto something or stay as still as possible until your breathing settles down. It may be a boat, a fixed object, or something floating. Focus on floating with your head above water until the cold shock response abates.• If multiple people fall into cold water, huddling in a group lessens the loss of body heat and is good for morale. Also, rescuers can spot a group more easily than individuals.• If you were not wearing a PFD when you entered the water, look to see if one is floating around you and put it on immediately. Don't take your clothes off unless absolutely necessary. A layer of water trapped inside your clothing will help insulate you.• Get as much of your body out of the water as possible. Even though you may feel colder out of the water, the rate of heat loss will be slower than if immersed in water.• If you cannot get out of the water quickly, act to protect against rapid heat loss. In as little as 10 minutes, you may be unable to self-rescue. Your focus now should be to slow heat loss.o Safety typically looks closer than it actually is, so staying with the boat is usually a better choice than swimming.o Adopt a position to reduce heat loss. If alone, use the HELP (Heat Escape Lessening Posture) position; or if there are others in the water with you, huddle together. The HELP position looks similar to the fetal position.o If you must swim, conserve energy and minimize movement. Swim on your back with your upper arms against the sides of your chest, your thighs together, and your knees bent. Flutter-kick with your lower legs.• Be prepared at all times to signal rescuers.• Seek medical help immediately.For more information on cold water safety please out https://www.boat-ed.com/Posted by Macomb County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, January 28, 2020
“The young lady is doing better today but wants to remind people to always fish with a partner and make sure you have proper, non-slip, footwear when you walking on any slippery surface,” part of the video’s caption reads. “She is forever grateful to her friend and the fisherman that saved her life. We thank them as well.”
While some commenters applauded the rescue, others chided Miller for her weight.
After the video’s posting, Miller explained that she was out with a friend at Beacon Cove in Harrison Township on Monday when she slipped and fell off the dock into the freezing waters. Her friend heard the fall and saw that Miller was struggling, but was unable to pull her out.
In its Facebook post, the police department said two local fishermen also tried to assist Miller to no avail.
“The young lady’s body had become completely numb and she was unable to move,” the post reads. “Her friend called for help as the fisherman held on to the young lady keeping her from slipping underwater and surely drowning.”
Officials say Miller was in the water for roughly 15 minutes and was drifting in and out of consciousness by the time authorities arrived.
Despite the harrowing situation, Miller says commenters on Facebook attacked her over her weight and what she was wearing.
“I actually had two pairs of pants on and a hoodie and a winter coat,” Miller told ABC News. “They actually kind of floated up and it made me feel like I was sinking and then every time there was a pull, I felt like I was getting choked, so we ripped those off so I could breathe and we could get me out of there.”
Miller also told ABC News she used to weigh 400 pounds. She says people have no idea how hard she’s worked to get to where she is now.
“I want to raise awareness on how dangerous ice fishing can be. I am glad I am alive and share my story,” Miller says.
*First Published: Feb 2, 2020, 9:53 am CST
Alexandra Samuels is a national political reporter and contributor to the Daily Dot, where she started as an intern covering politics in the summer of 2016. She enjoys all things Marvel, keeping up with the latest TikTok trends, long walks with her pup, and reading murder-mystery novels.