Two Michigan air stations assisted the U.S. Coast Guard with rescuing 46 ice fisherman from an ice floe that broke free near Catawaba Island.
On Sat. Mar. 9, at 8:13 a.m. Coast Guard Station Marblehead received notification from an Ohio Department of Natural Resources representative that there were about 100 people stranded on an ice floe and an additional 30 to 40 people were in the water.
Coast Guard District 9 Command Center 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 for a mass rescue. Catawaba Island Fire, Put-in-Bay Fire and Southshore Towing also responded with air-boats, while ODNR, North Central EMS and Danbury EMS assisted in the search and rescue efforts.
When the Coast Guard arrived on scene at approximately 8:50 a.m. no one was in the water. Those that had fallen in were all back on the ice or land.
Approximately 100 people were able to walk to shore by walking on portions of the ice that were not broken, however as temperatures continued to rise, the ice continued to break into separate ice floes.
The remaining fisherman were rescued by the air-boat or helicopter crews.
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.