Talk about clairvoyant. Cleveland Plains Dealer outdoor editor, and my good fishing buddy, D’Arcy Egan hit the nail on the head in his Saturday morning newspaper column about the dangers of fishing western Lake Erie this weekend. The ink was barely dry on his column when a huge chunk of Erie ice broke off stranding about 150 icefishermen. Tragically, there was one death.
“The ice fishing this weekend on Lake Erie could also be dangerous,” Egan wrote. “A forecast of rising temperatures and melting ice will be a problem. More worrisome are 25-knot winds from the southwest that are bringing the higher temperatures, as well as ice-melting rains over the next week.”
By late afternoon on Saturday a full-scale rescue effort was underway which included four Coast Guard helicopters and airboats sent out onto the floe to pluck anglers to safety. Although ice in the western basin was up to two-feet thick, the rising temperatures and 35 mph wind created the ice floe–just as Eagan predicted.
“We get people out here who don’t know how to read the ice,” Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton told ABC news. “What happened here today was just idiotic. I don’t know how else to put it.”
Coast Guard officials reported one death–a man who fell into the icy breach while searching for a link to the shoreline.
Egan is on the scene and we hope to bring more details about today’s tragedy throughout the weekend.
UPDATE: 11:45 p.m.—–According to CNN….
(CNN) -- An Ohio sheriff had harsh words for ice fishermen who had to be rescued Saturday after high winds and rising temperatures caused an ice floe to break away and strand about 150 of them on Lake Erie.
The incident, in which one person was pronounced dead after being transported to the hospital, came after the National Weather Service issued a warning that ice floes could break away from the main ice area in the western section of the lake.
At least some of those rescued were fishermen.
“This just cost the taxpayers a ton of money,” Ottawa County, Ohio, Sheriff Bob Bratton said. “We lost a life out there today. … I’m sorry a man lost his life out there today. These people should have known better.”
Bratton said those rescued should never have been on Lake Erie in the first place because weather conditions made it risky, and “if there was a section in the code about common sense, we would have had 150 arrests out there today.”