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Almost 100 Saved In Ice Rescue From Lake Erie

Multiple areas first responders participated in an Ice Rescue that saved or provided assistance to almost 100 people trapped on deteriorating ice near Catawba Island State Park in Ohio’s Lake Erie. The large group was ice fishing near shore when the ice began to break up creating dangerous ice floes that cut off access to the mainland. The Ohio Department Of Natural Resources notified multiple agencies Saturday morning which triggered the response by the US Coast Guard, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, Put-in-Bay Volunteer Fire & Rescue, Catawba Island Volunteer Fire Department and Police, and Danberry & North Central EMS.

Witnesses State Many Swam To Shore In Self Rescue

As the ice began to crack and the floes started to be pushed by winds away from the shoreline, several people attempted to self-rescue by entering the water and swimming back to land or solid ice. With water temperatures at 32 degrees, paralyzing hypothermia can occur in less than 15 minutes of exposure. Coast Guard Station Marblehead was notified by the ODNR that, at one point, there appeared to be 30 to 40 people in the water. The emergency started at 8 am, and by 11 am, everyone had been reported as safe with no injuries.

Coast Guard Responds in Ice Rescue

Coast Guard District 9 Command Center responded to the distress call by launching two 20-foot airboats from the Marblehead Station and launched 4 helicopters, two from Station Detroit and two from nearby Air Station Traverse City. They were joined by the Catawba Island and Put-in-Bay Volunteer Fire Departments and Southshore Towing, who dispatched airboats to assist.

Scanner traffic indicated airboats were transporting fishermen to safety while many were able to walk to safety by crossing ice that had not yet broken away. As temperatures continued to rise, the floe broke into multiple pieces. Helicopter crews rescued the remainder of the fishermen.

Put-in-Bay Assists 15 in Ice Rescue

Put-in-Bay Volunteer Fire Department  Assitant Chief Doug Wilhelm stated they could rescue approximately 15 people using the department’s airboat. The department trains annually for these events as ice fishing is a popular pastime at Ohio’s Put-in-Bay in winter. T

he Coast Guard followed up after the rescue with a warning that urged people not to go out onto the ice and that even though it may appear to be safe, the thickness of the ice is difficult to determine and the warmer weather will continue to cause the deterioration in the ice. Proper Ice Fishing Safety procedures should be followed at all times and always with a knowledgeable guide.


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