Sudbury

Thessalon OPP officer honoured for bravery

In March, OPP constable Jeffrey Lobsinger remembers it starting as a typical spring day with the ice slowly melting near Thessalon, where he’s stationed. He never imagined he’d be recognized for bravery after placing his own life in danger several times.
Thessalon OPP constable Jeffrey Lobsinger recently received the Ontario Medal for Police Bravery after attempting to rescue a man who had fallen through the ice in Gordon Lake in March. (Yvon Theriault/CBON)

In March, OPP constable Jeffrey Lobsinger remembers it starting as a typical spring day with the ice slowly melting near Thessalon, where he's stationed.

He never imagined he'd be recognized for bravery after placing his own life in danger several times.

Lobsinger recently received the Ontario Medal for Police Bravery.

In March, three men had headed out ice fishing on two snowmobiles on Gordon Lake. One of the men broke through. Lobsinger got the call to go assist.

"He had a full flotation suit on so he had his arms on the ice," Lobsinger recalls the scene upon arriving.

"He was still talking but it was very jumbled, confused speech which is typical for hypothermia."

One of the other men had fallen through the ice as well while trying to rescue his friend. He made it out and was on shore making a fire, Lobsinger said.

Lobsinger attempted to rescue the man and fell through the ice himself five or six times. He says the man in the water was about 150 metres away.

"I've been in water like that before so I knew what to expect," he said.

"I became exhausted trying to pull myself out over and over. I too was at the beginning stages or at some stage of hypothermia."

Ran out of options

Lobsinger says the other men on shore kept talking to the man in the water, trying to keep him calm as the Coast Guard was on the way.

The man was rescued, but died of hypothermia. 

"The entire lake was just literally disintegrating," he said.

"I was thinking it's my duty to save this guy. It was very frustrating. We just ran out of options."

Lobsinger says he wouldn't hesitate to try and save someone in the future.

"I feel like if he had lived it would have been a more rewarding medal to get," he said.

"But people have reminded me that it's not about the outcome or what happened at the end of the call. It's what I did and I'm just humbled by the whole thing."