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Fishermen rescued from breakaway ice

5/31/2006

OAK HARBOR, Ohio — About 30 ice fishermen on Lake Erie had to be rescued recently after a huge chunk of ice broke away and drifted about four miles off shore, the Coast Guard said.

Rescue crews used boats and a helicopter to rescue the anglers and bring them to shore, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Paul Gimple. They also brought in a dog with one of the fishermen. No injuries were reported.

One person who fell in the water was rescued by other fishermen, said Senior Chief James Bordell of the Coast Guard's Marblehead Station.

The ice floe, about 10 miles wide, broke away about 10 miles east of Toledo near the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge when winds started kicking up in the morning.

One stranded fisherman used a cell phone to call the Coast Guard for help, Gimple said.

Most of the anglers were forced to leave their all-terrain vehicles, fishing shanties and the rest of their gear behind on the ice.

Helicopters searched the lake and shoreline Friday afternoon to make sure no one else was trapped. There were no reports of any missing people, Gimple said

Ice fishing is popular on the lake and draws anglers from all over the Midwest, but shifting winds and warming temperatures have caused the ice to crack on numerous occasions.

The Coast Guard rescued about 20 stranded fishermen two years ago and another 20 anglers in 2001 only a few miles from where the rescue took place on Friday.