Coast Guard Rescues Dozens of Fishermen After Ice Floe Breaks Off in Lake Erie

Ice rescue instructors from Coast Guard Station Sheboygan demonstrate ice rescue techniques and safety during an on-ice oil recovery scenario with several federal, local and state agencies in McKinley Marina, Milwaukee, Wis., Feb. 13, 2019. This training was conducted with several federal, local and state agencies for training if a large oil spill was to occur on ice. (Tyler E. Hudson/U.S. Coast Guard)
Ice rescue instructors from Coast Guard Station Sheboygan demonstrate ice rescue techniques and safety during an on-ice oil recovery scenario with several federal, local and state agencies in McKinley Marina, Milwaukee, Wis., Feb. 13, 2019. This training was conducted with several federal, local and state agencies for training if a large oil spill was to occur on ice. (Tyler E. Hudson/U.S. Coast Guard)

CATAWABA ISLAND, Ohio -- U.S. Coast Guard Air Station crews from Traverse City and Detroit flew to help other Coast Guard groups and Ohio state and local authorities Saturday morning after getting calls that more than 150 people were stranded or needed to be rescued after a large ice floe broke free near Catawaba Island in Lake Erie.

The first calls for help came into the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Marblehead about 8:13 a.m., the military said. An Ohio Department of Natural Resources staffer called to say there were about 100 people stranded on an ice floe, with up to 40 other people in the water.

The Marblehead Station crews launched two 20-foot airboats to start the mass rescue. Command staff also asked Air Station Detroit to fly over with two of its MH-65 Dolphin helicopters, and called Air Station Traverse City, which flew over with two of its MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters.

Local firefighters drove more airboats to the scene, and DNR and emergency services workers answered the call for help.

"Coast Guard Station Marblehead arrived on scene at approximately 8:50 a.m. and there were no persons in the water," staff said. "Those who had fallen in or intentionally entered the water to try to swim to land were all back on the ice or land.

"Approximately 100 people were able to walk to shore via portions of ice that were still unbroken; however, as the temperature continued to rise, the ice broke into multiple separate ice floes. The remaining fishermen were rescued by the airboat crews and helicopter crews."

By 11:15 a.m., everyone was out of danger, the Coast Guard said. Two people who were hoisted into a helicopter where checked by a rescue swimmer, then taken to the mainland for minor medical treatment.

"As temperatures begin to rise, the Coast Guard strongly urges people not to go out onto ice. Ice may look safe but it is difficult to determine the thickness visually and the increase in warm weather will continue to melt and weaken the ice."

U.S. Coast Guard helicopters rescue people stranded on Lake Erie.

This article is written by Tanda Gmiter from MLive.com, Walker, Mich. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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