Police track footprints to rescue ill woman


December 1, 2011

Heavy snowfall may have served as a lifeline late Sunday night, as Haines Borough police officer Jason Rettinger tracked a missing 23-year-old’s footprints more than a mile to bring her to medical care.

Eileen McIver, who suffers an autonomic disorder, said she was surprised Rettinger went the extra mile for her. She moved here from Cleveland a few months ago. "The police took the time to track down footprints, and it wasn’t even, like, a murder case," she said.

"I think I did what any of the other officers of the Haines Police department would have done," Rettinger said this week. "When we get a call, we take them seriously, and we try to help whenever we can."

McIver’s disorder restricts blood flow to vital organs and the brain and can lead to a dangerously fast heartbeat and a reduced level of consciousness. Her symptoms on Sunday flared up at the Haines Animal Rescue Kennel, where she serves as a volunteer. She became cold and dizzy and curled up on the floor.

McIver had left her residence off FAA Road earlier to go for a walk. As she neared the Small Tracts Road kennel, McIver decided to visit the dogs.

Her 26-year-old sister, Kerry, a Haines School teacher, called police at 10:42 p.m., after Eileen had been gone more than two hours. Kerry told the department of her sister’s medical issue.

"Back home, that wouldn’t be a big deal; the policeman wouldn’t come out," Eileen said. "They’d be like, ‘Contact us in this many hours if she’s still missing.’"

Officer Rettinger drove with Kerry McIver and followed the footprints left by Eileen’s size 8 Bogs boots.

"I couldn’t see it as well as him," Kerry said. "He had a pretty good eye." Footprints led to HARK’s door.

"I heard the police banging on the door, and I was just too foggy to think straight, first of all, and I also couldn’t stand up to get to the door to open it," Eileen said.

She said her first thought upon seeing Rettinger and officer Cassandra McEwen was, "Oh, no, am I in big trouble?"

An ambulance took McIver to the Haines clinic, and she made a quick recovery.

Police chief Gary Lowe praised Rettinger’s work to find McIver.

"From my understanding, if she had not been located, it was certainly a life-threatening situation for her," Lowe said.

McIver said she is unsure of the severity of the health scare, but said she likely didn’t notice her symptoms on her walk due to the cold weather. "It can be a life-threatening situation, but I don’t think it was," she said.



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