Outdoor sportsmen Shane Nelson and Robert Verhagen ran into every obstacle imaginable during their ill-fated ice fishing trip.
“Didn’t catch any fish, ran out of propane early and got stranded on the ice,” Nelson, an ice fishing first-timer, told local Fox station WLUK.
A piece of ice separated from the main shore of Lake Michigan near the small town of Scott, Wisconsin on Saturday morning — taking 34 ice fishers with it.
No one was injured before or during the risky rescue operation, according to the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, New Franken Fire Department, Green Bay Metro Firer Department, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the US Coast Guard — all of whom showed up at the scene to rescue the drifters.
The Brown County sheriffs initially reported 27 individuals on the ice shove and later corrected the total to 34 people.
“Happy to report a good ending to this extremely dangerous situation!,” they wrote on Facebook.
Nelson described the moment the ice sheet broke. “It sounded like, almost, somebody fired a gun out there,” said Nelson. “We thought it was interesting, got out of our shanty, took a look and people were yelling on the ice ‘we’re separating.’ ”
They waited on the floating ice for about 90 minutes, according to Sheriff’s Lt. John Bain.
“I heard reports that the ice had drifted out approximately 2,000 feet from where they originally were,” said Bain. “So our iceboat operators indicated that the ice had moved farther each trip that they went back for a rescue.”
Authorities concur the break was brought on by a passing ship.
“A barge may have come through and that may have disrupted the ice. The disruption of the ice along with natural occurring conditions may have led to that,” said Bain. “The current and the winds, things can change fast, and you’re not always aware that they are changing.”
They remind anglers at Lake Michigan to keep in mind the changing conditions of the icy lake, which isn’t yet completely frozen over this winter. They also said to keep your cell phones turned on.
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