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18 people rescued from frozen Lake Erie after ice sheets break, float away from mainland

Lake Erie Rescue
Posted at 9:11 AM, Feb 07, 2022

CATAWBA, Ohio — CATAWBA, Ohio — A mass rescue was conducted Sunday afternoon on Lake Erie after 18 people were stranded on the ice.

According to officials, the 18 people who were on the ice at the time of the rescue were on ATVs and snowmobiles looking for a route back to land when ice sheets broke into floes.

The Coast Guard's airboat from Marblehead, Ohio and helicopters from Detroit took part in the rescue, which began around 1 p.m. ET. Authorities said a Good Samaritan with an airboat also assisted with the rescue.

Once on scene, the helicopter hoisted seven people from the ice, the Coast Guard airboat rescued four people and the Good Samaritan with an airboat rescued the remaining seven people.

No one required medical attention, according to the Coast Guard.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Morse served as the coxswain of the Coast Guard's airboat during the rescue.

"Even though they had about six inches out there today, it still broke off," he said. "So, that's why the U.S. Coast Guard's ice rescue motto is 'no ice is safe ice.;"

The National Weather Service recently issued a Marine Weather Statement, in effect through Monday afternoon, stating that gusty winds will continue to pose a risk for ice floes to break off on Lake Erie. They strongly urge people to stay off the ice.

Less than two weeks ago, the Coast Guard outpost in Marblehead issued a warning about venturing out on thin ice. Even then, those crews were already seeing areas with some cracking and shifting ice, and a spokesperson brought up the issues for those using snowmobiles and ATVs on the ice.

"That can be really dangerous out there because then you're stranded with no way back to land," BM3 Tyler Lakatis with the Coast Guard said on Jan. 27. "Strong ice for a snowmobile would be about six inches. Anything below that you have a chance of breaking the ice and falling through."

This story was originally published by Courtney Shaw, Camryn Justice and Clay LePard on Scripps station WEWS in Cleveland.