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Off-duty firefighter rescued man who fell through ice

JONES LAKE, Ind. (WANE) – A Rome City man is recovering in a hospital thanks to the quick thinking of his neighbor.

Neil Hudson is also on the Fort Wayne Fire Department and used to be on the dive team.

Richard Goble, 80, was on an ATV on Jones Lake near Rome City in Noble County around 4:10 p.m. Sunday with his neighbor, Neil Hudson, and Hudson’s cousin, Scott Heck.

Hudson said Goble was taking them out for ice fishing.

Hudson and Heck had just drilled two holes in 17-inches of ice and were watching Goble drive his ATV to the far side of the lake.

“We saw his Gator sink about half way down and I said, ‘Oh, my goodness’ and I told my cousin to call 911. Then the whole thing sunk in,” Hudson said.

Hudson is also a Fort Wayne firefighter and used to be on the dive team.

“I knew there’s nothing I could do at that point without the proper gear, so that’s when I got on my ATV and came back [to the house] and got two life jackets for my cousin and me, cushions and a rope,” Hudson said.

Hudson drove his ATV back out, picked up Heck and they headed toward where Goble fell through the ice.

The ATV Goble was in had an enclosed cab.

Hudson said when they got to him, Goble had somehow managed to open the door and get out of the ATV, which at that point was submerged in the water except for the top two inches.

“I threw out the throw cushions and got him to the edge of the ice. My cousin pulled on the rope and I yanked him out,” Hudson said.

Hudson and Heck called 911 again and told the responders to meet them at Hudson’s house. When they got Goble there, police, firefighters and paramedics were waiting.

Hudson and Goble have been neighbors for 17 years.

“I’ve been on these situations before, but he’s a friend of mine, so the heart rate tends to be a little higher than normal. It felt really good [to save him]. I love that guy,” Hudson said.

Samaritan flew Goble to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne. He was last listed in serious but stable condition.