Eighteen people have been rescued after an ice floe they were standing on separated from the Ohio shoreline and floated into Lake Erie.
Seven people were rescued by a helicopter and 11 others were rescued between two airboats — one operated by the Coast Guard and another by a Good Samaritan — on Sunday afternoon around 1 p.m. local time, according to a USCG Great Lakes statement.
The rescue was triggered when the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Detroit spotted the group stranded on the large chunk of ice near Catawba Island, the Coast Guard said.
According to Sunday’s statement, the group appeared to have “several ATVs” with them and seemed to be “looking for a route back to land” when they were found.
The helicopter crew began hoisting victims into the aircraft as the Station Marblehead’s airboat began taking on passengers. A Good Samaritan with an airboat also assisted with the rescue.
None of the victims required medical attention upon arriving on land, though “emergency medical services were standing by,” the Coast Guard said.
The National Weather Service in Cleveland raised concerns about such a situation in a bulletin shared Saturday evening, pointing to increased wind speeds and gusts up to 25 mph around the lake area.
“You are urged to stay off the ice on Lake Erie as there is the possibility that the ice will drift away from shore,” the National Weather Service wrote on Twitter. “Dangerous ice conditions could develop causing people to become trapped on the ice.”
The Homeland Security department offered a warning in Sunday’s statement to those who attempt to seek similar “recreational opportunities” to ultimately “take precautions, not chances.”
Junior lieutenant Jeremiah Schiessel of the Coast Guard Sector Detroit also warned of the risks that come with adventuring onto ice in the wintertime.
“There’s no such thing as safe ice, but people can mitigate their risks,” Schiessel said in Sunday’s statement. “Always be sure to tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Great Lakes ice is unpredictable, and conditions can change fast.”
Those venturing on the water during the winter months are encouraged to “dress appropriately for the water temperature, not the air temperature,” in addition to wearing their life jackets, per the Coast Guard.
Individuals are also encouraged to bring with them “a reliable form of communication” and either icepicks or screwdrivers “that can help them self-rescue if they go through the ice.”
We can’t believe people actually go out on frozen lakes for fun. That sounds incredibly dangerous.