Treacherous water inspires a primal deep-rooted fear. However, the Coast Guard is known to attempt daring rescues involving the most dangerous waters on a regular basis.
Ice fishing is a notoriously dangerous undertaking. Ice is unpredictable, and conditions can change quickly. However, for anglers in the Great Lakes area, it's just a normal winter day activity. In fact, more than 1.5 million people in the northern U.S. venture out onto the ice to enjoy the well-loved sport of ice fishing.
Just A Day Of Fishing
On Thursday, 66 fishermen in Door County, Michigan, went out to enjoy a day out on the ice. According to the Coast Guard, the fishermen were set up with fishing huts on Sturgeon Bay's ice.
Normally the ice is thick enough to hold the weight of the anglers, their gear as well as the huts. The huts help keep the fishermen warm while they wait.
However, the ice began to crack.
The ice split into three different floes as it detached from the shore. Due to accelerated winds from an impending storm, the ice had been pushed out into deeper water.
The split occurred a half-mile from shore. As a result a 1,000- foot opening now existed leaving choppy water between the anglers and the shore.
Dale Stroschein said to WBAY-TV, "In my years of being on this ice, I've seen it open north, south, but I've not seen it where you got a split going to the west in that north-south region. And there must be a super-strong current today. I've never seen that."
Stroschein was a part of the multi-agency team that retrieved the anglers from the floating ice.
Coasties Save The Day
The U.S. Coast Guard came in with two helicopters and ice boats to rescue the stranded fishers and get them to safety.
“Today’s success is a direct result of effective training and the long-standing and close relationships with our agency partners in the greater Sturgeon Bay Area.”Commander Bryan Swintek, Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan
Many other local agencies assisted with the rescue as well, including law enforcement and the fire department. By the time all was said it done, the rescue took about four hours.
Coast Guard used the incident to remind people to double-check the weather before heading out.
The Coast Guard's main objective is to save people from water-related incidents. Sometimes those can be accidents or weather-related.
In this case, their elite training and willingness to work with local agencies made a happy ending for the stranded anglers.