Fishermen honored for helping rescue man who fell through the ice on Oneida Lake

On Friday, three fishermen and a state trooper were honored for their rescue of a man who fell through thin ice on Oneida Lake last Thursday.

Fishermen Eric Wilsey, Alan Waldron and James Parkhurst were a short distance away from the shore when they saw Albert Merola fall through the ice while he walked his dog.

The three men grabbed a flagpole from the shoreline and tried use it to rescue him but Merola was unable to hold onto the flagpole. State Trooper Ron Morse arrived with a rope from his car and decided he would go out on the thin ice to rescue Merola.

"He started saying that he wasn't going to make it. The only thing I could think to do was get out there and grab a hold of him so he wouldn't go under again," said Morse.

Morse tied one end of the rope around his own waist and carefully slid out on the ice while the fishermen held the other end.

Morse was just two weeks away from retirement as he risked his life sliding out on the thin ice but says he never thought about holding back.

"It wasn't a police thing, it was a human thing. You're going to do whatever you can to help somebody," said Morse.

Morse reached the man but then Morse also fell through the ice. The fishermen pulled him out and then were able to get another rope and life jacket to the man in the water. Everyone made it out safely and the fishermen seemed embarrassed by all the attention their bravery received.

"I feel bad everybody calling us heroes. We're not heroes. We'd do it for anybody," said fisherman James Parkhurst.

On Friday, Morse and Wilsey, Waldron and Parkhurst were honored by the state police for their help with the rescue. Morse and the fishermen said the rescue was made possible by a complete team effort.

"It wasn't just any one individual person - it was everybody that was there," said Waldron.