CLEVELAND (WJW) – A harrowing rescue on Catawba Island. The U.S. Coast Guard had to rescue eighteen people who were snowmobiling on a frozen part of Lake Erie after an ice floe broke away. Seven people were taken by helicopter and the rest by boat. All of them are safe.
Prior to the rescue, the National Weather Service put out an alert urging people to stay off the ice on Lake Erie because of the southern winds.
“It’s super dangerous out there,” said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Trent Gulliford. “You don’t know how thick the ice can be or what lies underneath the snow or on top of the ice so there is a lot to factor in.”
The Coast Guard officers at Station Cleveland Harbor say the most ice rescue calls they get happen at Edgewater Park.
Sunday, there were numerous people out walking on the ice at Edgewater.
“You could do ice fishing or walk out and take photos but once you fall in, that’s when it’s super dangerous because of how fast hypothermia can happen,” said Petty Officer Gulliford.
While the Coast Guard advises not to go out on the lake, they do say it’s not illegal. So if you are going to go out, make sure you’re prepared.
“Have a plan and make sure people know you’re going out there and you’re not going by yourself,” said Petty Officer Gulliford. “Have a flotation device life jacket or anything that’s going to keep you floating.”
But if you do fall through, hold onto the ice, and follow the Coast Guard’s 1-10-1 rule.
“One minute of trying to keep your composure, catch your breath and stay as calm as you can,” said U.S. Coast Guard Fireman Thomas Borden. “Ten would be 10 minutes of meaningful movement. Try to keep blood flowing, bouncing up and down and trying to get yourself out. The last one would be trying to stay conscious for at least one hour.”