(AP) - A sheet of ice holding fishermen on Lake Erie broke loose in windy
weather Saturday morning, sending many of them scrambling to safety but
leaving nearly four dozen stranded on the floe for three hours more than a
mile offshore until emergency crews could rescue them.
About 100 of 146
fishermen out on the ice were able to grab their gear and make it back to
shore before any additional ice broke off, The Blade of Toledo reported.
One of the stranded
fishermen, 42-year-old Tony Adkins, said the ice began to crack quickly and
soon there was a huge gap between the ice floe and the shore.
“Thank God the
Coast Guard was here for us,” Adkins, of Akron, Ohio, told The Blade. “You
live and you learn, I guess.”
The Coast Guard and
the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office began receiving reports around 8:30 a.m.
Saturday that a large number of people had become stuck on a floe broken off
from the main ice pack connected to Catawba Island.
The Coast Guard
launched helicopters out of Detroit, and along with local rescue personnel,
sent airboats to retrieve the stranded fishermen, said Coast Guard Petty
Officer Brian McCrum. Forty-six people were rescued, he said, including two
fishermen who were hoisted by helicopter and medically examined.
It ended up that no
one was injured, authorities said.
James Gibelyou said
he was too far from shore to make a run for it as he and others painfully
watched the ice break.
“We were out about
a mile and a half, and out of nowhere that wind just picked up and
everything broke fast,” said Gibelyou, 33, of Wakeman.
Gibelyou said that
he noticed the weather was getting warmer Friday and that ice conditions
were beginning to change. The fishermen should have called it quits then, he
said, and “not come out this morning.”
The weather wasn’t
suited for fishing Saturday morning and caused a threat to the safety and
lives of those who were on the ice floe, said Toledo fisherman and ice guide
“The wind started
shifting and opening up the ice. They can’t get across the cracks when they
open that quick,” said Duszynski, who watched the rescue action from the
shore. “They shouldn’t have been out that far. They couldn’t get back
across. When that ice has room to move, it moves fast.”
In February 2009,
one fisherman died and dozens of others were stranded on a Lake Erie ice