As reported Tuesday on Myfoxdetroit.com, southeast Michigan authorities issued a New Year's Day warning that frigid temperatures don't guarantee that safe ice on Michigan lakes.
The warning follows the death of an ice angler near suburban Detroit, along with three other incidents in southeastern and western Michigan involving men requiring rescue after falling through what appeared to be solid ice.
Click here for the video of the scene, along with Sgt. Matt Snyder offering tips on what to do if you're trapped on thin ice.
Oakland County sheriff's department divers Tuesday recovered the body of 63-year-old Donald Thorpe of Holly who went fishing Monday on Hartwick Lake in Groveland Township, about 35 miles north-northwest of Detroit.
Thorpe's body was found at around 1 p.m. in 12 feet of water, according to Undersheriff Michael McCabe.
"The sheriff's office wants to remind people that NO ice in Oakland County can be considered safe, especially this early in the season," McCabe said in an email message.
Despite temperatures that dipped into the teens across the southern half of the state New Year's Eve and Day, the ice was too thin to support people, authorities say. It's important to remember that, even with extended nighttime temperatures in the teens, a blanket of fresh snow actually insulates the ice and prevents it from forming quickly.
"Survey the ice, keeping in mind that ice conditions change day by day, lake by lake and location by location on the same body of water," McCabe said.
In nearby Waterford Township, firefighters rescued two men who fell through the ice Tuesday on Scott Lake. One of the men required hospitalization, and a firefighter hurt a hand during the rescue, said Waterford fire Capt. John Lyman.
Two similar incidents occurred in western Michigan this past Tuesday.
In Kent County's Grattan Township, a man on an ice boat broke through the frozen surface of Big Crooked Lake and spent about 15 minutes in the water before being rescued, Mlive.com and WOOD-TV reported.
"The ice is too thin for anybody to be out there," said township fire Chief Louis Kirkbride. "The water's very cold."
The rescued man was hospitalized.
In Branch County's Ovid Township, residents used a life preserver and marine rope to rescue a 31-year-old a man who fell through the ice on Rose Lake. He also was hospitalized.
Taking a few precautions before heading out can spell the difference between life and death.
- Always tell someone where you are going and how long you plan to stay out.
- Never step onto the ice without a cell phone, and stow it in a chest pocket if possible (waist or back pockets will be submerged first if you break through).
- Never go ice fishing alone. Always go with a friend, and take a long rope (50'+) in a throw bag (for paddle sports). This nylon bag allows one end of the rope to be tied to something, and allows the bundled rope to be thrown. This may aid someone who has fallen through without approaching them directly.
- A hand spud can be used to strike the ice as you walk along. If it passes completely through the ice with a single stroke, you need to change paths or get off the ice.
- A pair of hand spikes, worn in your coat, can help you get a grip on the ice if you fall in. These spikes are set into plastic handles, strung together with a long cord. They hang from inside your coat sleeves and can help you pull yourself out.
Finally - if there is any doubt about the safety of the ice, go home and find something else to do. It's easier to head out another day than tread 33 degree water or worse. Hang out with loved ones, cook dinner, read a book, or tie a few flies while sipping a bourbon. This is just fishing, a fun pastime, and while they are great sport and can be tasty, no fish is worth risking your life for. Tight lines!