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Pocatello man survives near-deadly case of hypothermia

By Kaitlin Loukides
Published On: Dec 06 2012 01:58:54 AM CST
Updated On: Dec 06 2012 11:17:05 AM CST

Michael Jones tells his story for the first time about how lucky he is to have been rescued by some local heroes.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

A Pocatello man spoke out Wednesday for the first time since his near-deadly accident last week.

It was just another typical Saturday duck hunt at Duck Point in Power County for Michael Jones and a couple of his buddies. But before Jones knew it, their canoe had capsized, and that was the last thing he remembered before waking up in one of Portneuf Medical Center's hospital rooms.

"I remember the canoe dunking over, hanging onto the canoe for about 20 or 30 minutes, and that was it," Jones said as he lay in the recovery room.

Doctors who resuscitated Jones back to life consider this a miracle and said he is lucky to be alive.

Federal Fish and Wildlife officer Russell Haskett was first to approach Jones. A Fish and Wildlife spokesman, Tracy Casselman, said Haskett had to wade into the icy water up to his chest in order to successfully pull Jones' body safely back to shore. He was patrolling the area that day when he got the emergency call from the Power County Sheriff's Office who were also en route to the scene along with the Power County EMS, search and rescue volunteers, and the American Falls Police Department.

Casselman also said Jones' heart gave out as soon as he hit the shore and resuscitating him on the scene was unsuccessful.

Due to the frigid water and the biting weather, Jones' body temperature plummeted down to a dangerously low 82 degrees, which stopped his organs from being able to pump blood throughout the rest of his body.

Doctors said it took them nearly an hour of warming his heart before his body temperature stabilized and his organs started pumping blood once again.

"It was everything in progress - CPR in progress, someone on top of the gurney keeping the chest, the heart, keeping the blood moving throughout the body to keep the blood going to the brain to keep him alive," Portneuf Medical Center's cardiac surgeon Dr. Jacob DeLaRosa said.

DeLaRosa also said Jones is lucky since he has seen people die after suffering from hypothermia less severe than what Jones experienced.

When asked what made Jones one of the lucky survivors, DeLaRosa said, "It's really difficult to explain. It really is the miracle on the Snake River."

Most importantly, Jones wanted to thank the heroes who saved his life that day.

"I want to thank every one of them. If it weren't for any of them, I wouldn't be here today," Jones said.

But despite the incident that nearly claimed his life, duck hunting will still remain his passion.

"You can't give up something you love; at least I can't."

Next time, Jones said, he plans to hunt on drier land.

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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