Dozens of ice fisherman saved after Lake ice broke near Catawba Island

(WTVG)
Published: Mar. 9, 2019 at 9:15 AM EST
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More than a hundred ice fisherman are safe after being stranded off of Catawba Island State Park in Port Clinton Saturday morning.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office tells 13abc between 100 to150 people were stranded when the ice broke free. It got warmer. The wind changed, and then open water and panic spread fast.

"Everybody around us started screaming and yelling to get off the ice, and everybody's packing up, and we're all running, and by that time it was already too late. The ice had spread open probably a good football field by then," said James Gibelyou. He was one of the ice fisherman who was stranded.

Officials from the Catawba fire and police departments worked with the U.S. Coast Guard, Port Clinton Fire Department, Put-in-Bay Fire Department, and the Ottawa County Sherrif's dive team in the rescue efforts.

"I didn't want to jump the one crack after I fell in because my legs were so cold, and I was tired. The guy was like, you got to do it now or never," said Jake Williams. He was one of the ice fisherman stranded.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, roughly 24 people were rescued by air boat and two others by helicopter.

No one was hurt. But, a lesson was learned the hard way.

"I won't be out here on the ice anytime soon," said Williams.

"A lot of us knew better. It's a big life lesson here. It was just ridiculous going out," said Gibelyou.

First responders say this serves as a reminder: no ice is safe ice.