Coast Guard warns ‘no ice is safe ice’ after ice fishing rescue by Catawba Island

CATAWBA ISLAND, Ohio -- The Coast Guard reminds citizens of the dangers of ice fishing after more than a hundred fishermen on Lake Erie became stranded on an ice floe and had to be rescued Saturday morning.

The incident happened near Catawba Island in Ottawa County, Ohio around 8 a.m. Saturday.

The Coast Guard said the ice broke loose while a large group of people were fishing. Some of them fell into the water.

James Gibelyou, 33, from Wakeman told FOX 8 News that they all were having a good time fishing when the ice they were on broke away and they were cut off from shore.

He said the group quickly became nervous.

"Oh I was scared. Everybody was screaming. I kind of panicked at first, but then I talked to my wife and got control of myself. There were a couple guys who were freaking out and we calmed them down and got the situation figured out," Gibelyou said.

Fortunately, first responders rescued the stranded people and brought them back to shore safely by using air boats.

Gibelyou said he's grateful for the rescuers and admits the temperature was too warm to be on the ice.

"I thank all of them, honestly. I walked around to each and every one of them and shook their hands. Honestly, they shouldn't have had to do that. None of us should have been out there, but, thankfully, they took the time out to get out there and rescue us," he said.

Gibelyou told FOX 8 he was happy to be back on land and back home with his family.

"I was super relieved. Honestly, I started shaking more when I got on land. It all really started hitting me, but once I got to shore it was such a relief. I took a knee and thanked the Lord for it," Gibelyou said.

He said he will go ice fishing again someday, but the next time he goes it will have to be frigid with very thick ice.

"A 50 degree day does melt away the ice and deteriorates the ice, but after this experience it would have to be 20 degrees with 20 inches of ice. That ice was way too unsafe today," Gibelyou said.

The Coast Guard warns that no ice is safe ice, but advises if you're still going to go ice fishing to wear a life vest.

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