Ice fisherman drowns in Lenawee County, MI - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Ice fisherman drowns in Lenawee County, MI

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An ice fisherman drowns after falling into frigid water in Lenawee County.

It happened Thursday on Timber Lake in Cambridge Township, MI, which is northwest of Adrian.

Purple EMT gloves and tire tracks from emergency vehicles are all that's left behind after Thursday's tragic ice fishing outing.

The Lenawee County Sheriff says two men were ice fishing on Timber Lake. You can see the spot where they both fell through the ice.

Investigators say just before noon someone called 9-1-1 after hearing two ice fishermen call for help. When crews arrived they pulled one man out of the water. That man, 52-year-old Gerald Lee Smith from Grass Lake, survived after being Lifelighted to Toledo Hospital. The second ice fisherman, 52-year-old Michael James Shoftsell from Saline, died. Shoftsell was found in 18 feet deep of water.

"It's very sad," says Neal Mahoney, a Sylvania Township Trustee who has a place on nearby Vineyard Lake.

Mahoney planned to ice fish over the weekend but will likely go back home.

"You've got to be out here with the right equipment and make sure that it's safe and right now it's not safe at all," says Mahoney.

Down at Devil's Lake ice fishermen are testing the thickness of the ice and setting up shanties close to shore.

Rod Skow has been fishing Devil's Lake in the winter for nearly three decades. He says the ice is tricky this year.

"This year we thought there'd be more ice than there is already but there's not," says Skow. "Certain areas there's only a couple inches right here, some areas where we are there's six inches."

Fire officials all over Lenawee County say even the most experienced ice fishermen need to remember that no ice is safe ice.

"Make sure that there's, in my opinion, four inches of ice or more which goes again the grain of the old timers," says Addison Fire Chief Tim Shaw. "Personally I wouldn't step on the ice unless there's eight to ten inches."

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