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On Lake Erie Ice Floe, a Dramatic Mass Rescue

Ice broke free, stranding 46 ice fishermen in Ohio
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 10, 2019 8:40 AM CDT
Fisherman James Gibelyou, left, watches a crew prepare to rescue stranded fishermen off Catawba Island State Park, Ohio, on Saturday, March 9, 2019. The Coast Guard and Ottawa County Sheriff's Office...   (Lori King/The Blade via AP)
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(Newser) – A sheet of ice holding fishermen on Lake Erie broke loose in windy weather in Ohio on 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, the Toledo Blade reports. 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 told the Blade. "You live and you learn, I guess." The Coast Guard and the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office began receiving reports around 8:30am Saturday that a large number of people were 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, 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. No one was injured, reports the AP. 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. Gibelyou said that he noticed the weather was getting warmer Friday and that ice conditions were changing. "They can't get across the cracks when they open that quick," said fisherman Mark Duszynski, who watched the rescue from shore. "They shouldn't have been out that far. When that ice has room to move, it moves fast."

(Read more Lake Erie stories.)

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