Man survives fall through ice while searching for dog in Prescott, Wis.

What was supposed to be a routine walk with his dog turned into a near-death experience for Kim Darke. 

“I was in a pretty emotional state because I love my dog, I thought she had perished,” Darke said. 

Together for roughly eight years, Darke was in agony for a couple of hours Tuesday when he couldn't find his beloved dog, Gypsy. During a walk about a mile from their Prescott, Wisconsin home along the Mississippi, Gypsy was let off her leash and she disappeared.

“We were just hanging out on the river and I heard a yelp,” Darke said. “I thought she was in trouble.”

Admitting now that he was thinking with his heart and not his head, Darke ended up a good 15 yards off shore, and fell through the ice up to his chest. He caught himself with his arms and remembered he happened to pick up a railroad spike. So, he used it to crawl back onto the ice to safety. 

“If I hadn’t had that, I might have perished,” Darke said. 

Meanwhile Gypsy had wandered home, where a neighbor noticed her dragging her leash. The neighbor then called police. 

“The temperatures have really just recently changed, so lakes and rivers are making ice now,” said Robert Funk, interim chief at the Prescott Police Department. “It’s better to check and make sure there’s good ice before fisherman or recreational people go out on the ice. And always tell someone where you are going."

When officers found Darke minutes later, he had been outside on a frigid day for close to four hours. He considers himself very lucky for the chance to reunite with his best friend. 

“My temperature was 86 degrees, so I was pretty cold and wet,” Darke said. “I’m grateful that they found me.”