Forty-Six Fishermen Rescued from Ice Floe

Credit: USCG

Published Mar 9, 2019 4:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard and local agencies rescued 46 ice fishermen from an ice floe that broke free near Catawaba Island in western Lake Erie on Saturday.

An additional 100 people were able to self-rescue themselves from the ice floe either by swimming or walking on ice-bridges that were still connected to the floe initially.

The Coast Guard launched two 20-foot Special Purpose Craft-airboats from Station Marblehead, two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Air Station Detroit, and two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters from Air Station Traverse City to respond to the mass rescue. Catawaba Island Fire, Put-in-Bay Fire and Southshore Towing also responded with airboats, while ODNR, North Central EMS and Danbury EMS assisted in the search and rescue efforts.

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.

No injuries have been reported. The rescue comes 10 years after another large-scale rescue on Lake Erie. In that incident, one fisherman died and around 170 others were resuced from an ice floe.