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Divers retrieve man's prosthetic leg, valued at $80K, from Michigan lake

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Brandon Smith and his family can breathe a sigh of relief, now that he has his $80,000 leg back.

Last weekend, Smith, his son Stone Christopher, and his father-in-law Tim McIntosh decided to spend a lazy Sunday floating on Sunrise Lake in Milford Township, Michigan, about an hour northwest of Detroit. The three were having a good time until Stone Christopher unexpectedly jumped into the lake, which somehow caused Smith's prosthetic leg to become dislodged. It then fell into the water and quickly sank.

“He tried, but he just couldn’t get it,” said McIntosh.

With their daughter's family facing daunting physical and financial challenges because of the lost leg, Smith's in-laws contacted the county sheriff's office to see if folks there could help.

It was the right call. The family met with the Oakland County Marine Patrol Unit, a team of 13 divers, led by Sgt. Brian Burwell, who claim on their website to be "prepared for ready-response to the 450 plus lakes in the County" and "ready to dive in virtually any weather or water condition."

Using GPS coordinates, the family was able to approximate the location where the leg fell into the water. The Unit went to the pinpointed location on Wednesday, and Deputy Justin Wiegand was able to recover the leg there, 48 feet below the surface, in less than 10 minutes.

“Our dive team does an amazing job in a variety of conditions and circumstances,” said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. “In this incident, they were able to make a big quality-of-life difference for this gentleman who obviously would be greatly negatively impacted by the loss of his prosthetic leg.”

“You guys came to the rescue,” McIntosh said of the Marine Patrol Unit. “They were so professional. They were so good. It was a wonderful experience.”

Though deputies remarked at the time that the leg was in “surprisingly good shape,” considering it had been sitting in the water for three days, Smith and his family have taken the leg to the hospital for further examination to ensure that it has not been damaged and to ensure that it doesn't slip off so easily again.

Bremer Prosthetics claims in a video that "there's nothing to be afraid about being around the water or getting in the water" with a prosthesis. However, water may cause components of a prosthesis too wear out sooner than they otherwise would

Smith got the prosthetic leg just last month, six years after he injured his leg falling out of a tree while hunting. He had more than 15 surgeries on the leg before doctors ultimately removed it.

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