MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Despite a heroic rescue attempt, the 46-year-old driver who crashed into an icy Twin Cities pond died Sunday.
Michael Lange went off the road just after 8 p.m. and landed in a Vandnais Heights pond upside down. That pond is located at Vadnais Boulevard and Rice Street, near the Interstate 694 and 35E interchange.
“Michael had the hugest heart of any person I met,” said his sister, Bridget Kirkpatrick. “He was helpful and thoughtful and fun-loving, and he loved to make people laugh.”
Lange was trapped in the pond and submerged in the frigid water. Someone who witnessed the crash called for help at 8:18 p.m. Ramsey County Sheriff’s squads responded to the scene.
In less than a minute, Deputy Todd Kramer arrived on scene, put on his cold water immersion suit and entered the water. He was able to open the driver’s door and felt Lange in the driver’s seat. He was able to cut the seat-belt and he began to pull Lange from his vehicle.
A half-dozen Vadnais Heights Firefighters arrived, too. They threw on their wetsuits and they jumped in the pond to help Kramer. As a team, they got Lange out of the car, and they pulled him to shore.
First responders were able to restore a heartbeat before Lange was loaded into an Allina ambulance and transported to Regions Hospital, where he died around 9:21 p.m.
“We’re so grateful someone attempted and was willing to risk their own life, because it’s awful cold,” said Kirkpatrick, who later learned the tough news that her brother died from his injuries. “We’re appreciative and wished it would have ended on a better note than he’s passed away.”
Minnesota State Patrol Investigators are trying to determine why Lange crashed into the pond.
Kirkpatrick said her brother was always the one to help someone in need. She believes his good works were paid back.
“I’m blessed to know that someone would be willing to do that for him, because he, of course, would be willing to do that for someone else in a minute,” Kirkpatrick said.