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'That was awesome': Police officer gets help from Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh while moving tree

Posted at 2:39 PM, Feb 24, 2023

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — It was a busy Wednesday night for Ann Arbor, Michigan, police as they responded to more than 100 calls. Most of them were for damage caused by the ice storm, which DTE called "historic."

“For the most part of the night, we were just answering calls for downed branches, downed limbs, power lines coming down,” Ann Arbor Police officer Howard Cooper said.

Cooper had just started his 12-hour shift when he responded to a tree blocking a road. When he arrived, a driver pulled up and got out.

"A van pulled up behind me, and I was kind of turning around, waving at the van saying, 'Hey you got to turn around, sir. You got to turn around,'" Cooper recalled. "He got out and he said, ‘Why don't we try to move this tree together?' And as he kind of started walking toward me, I realized it was coach Harbaugh.”

Cooper gave Harbaugh a pair of work gloves, and the two went at it, moving the heavy branch inch by inch. They eventually were able to clear a lane for traffic.

“He started talking about football during it with the gloves and was like, 'Yeah, we got to take on a zone approach to this side of the limb,'” Cooper said.

Along with trees, the storm took down power lines across Ann Arbor. The fire department says it responded to over 300 incidents.

“It was pretty scary," Ann Arbor resident Carole Darr said after a power line came down and caught fire near her home. "I'm glad the fire department came and blocked this area off.”

The storm continued east, leaving a layer of ice throughout Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties, knocking out power to thousands more.

“It's rough — it’s rough," Karalea Williams in Waterford said. "We’re boiling water to stay warm.”

In Centerline and Warren, crews were out Thursday clearing debris. The thick ice caused damage there too.

“Broke my trampoline, there’s trees all over the road. It’s horrible over there,” said Jamie Wilmoth, who suffered damage in her yard.

With roughly 24 hours of cleanup, contractors and fire responders have been busy. Cooper was glad to have the help, and along with it is a story he’s been happy to tell.

“I just told him he was a good man for that," Cooper said of his conversation with Harbaugh. "It’s not every day you have someone so willing to hop out and help you out, so that was awesome.”

This article was written by Scripps News Detroit.