Crews rescued 66 fishermen stranded on an ice floe at the Sturgeon Bay canal, north of the city of Green Bay, as a crack in the ice formed.
“There were a lot of people out on the ice there. And it was a very large crack that ran north-south and just took a huge sheet of ice and pushed it right out into the bay,” said Lt. Erin Nolan, a pilot for the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, told WJMN, the Nexstar station in Marquette.
Door County, Wisconsin, Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Patrick McCarty said the crack opened in the ice around 9 a.m., starting off at around 10 feet and ultimately expanding to about a mile.
Two helicopters, three airboats, and other skiffs were used by multiple agencies in the rescue, which lasted 3.5 hours. Nolan said crews had to check and clear about 100 shanties.
“When we showed up, (the crack) was probably something like 20 or 30 yards across, but by the time we departed the scene, it was well over 100 to 200 yards. It opened up significantly while we were there,” Nolan said.
Authorities say everyone is OK and no one needed medical attention.
The Door County Sheriff’s Office reminded winter sport enthusiasts to always check the local weather conditions before heading out and they should carry a reliable means of communications with them. Nolan added that that ice fishermen should should review basic ice safety, make sure they have all the necessary gear, be self-aware and have the ability to self-rescue if necessary.