Duluth Fire Dept. Official Describes Park Point Ice Rescue

Ryan Juntti
Updated: December 04, 2018 04:58 PM

DULUTH - It was a multi-agency effort over the weekend to rescue nearly three dozen fishermen who were stranded on a sheet of ice off of Park Point.

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On Monday there was nothing, but open water on the Bay Side of Park Point. 

But on Saturday, the same area was ice covered. On it were 36 overzealous fishermen who ended up getting stranded when the wind created a crack in the ice, resulting in open water.

"It's a monkey see, monkey do kind of thing. A couple guys will go out there, they'll try it out, and they feel safe where they're at, other people drive by, they see 'okay people are out here, it must be safe,' " said Marine General Sales Associate Eric Holl.

Related: 35 Fishermen Rescued from Ice Floe Off Park Point

Crews were able to rescue 35 fishermen using a ladder, three Rapid Deployment Craft, and a boat. The other fisherman was able to get back to shore by wading in chest deep water.

"They used that (Rapid Deployment Craft) for transporting, hooking a rope on the land side, and then eventually having the rope on the other side so they could use it as a ferry," said Duluth Fire Dept. Capt. Kevin Haney. "That's a lot of people. That's probably the most we've pulled off of the ice before," he said.

Luckily, all 36 fishermen were safe, but Haney says the situation could've potentially ended a lot worse.

"If the ice conditions would've deteriorated, if they would've broken up in different places, they could've had close to a catastrophe out there," said Haney.

Haney understands that people want to get out on Lake Superior in the winter, but he says in order to stay safe it's important to be aware of your surroundings.

"It's a beautiful resource that we have, and it's alluring to people, and they want to get out on it, and they want to enjoy winter," said Haney. "However they have to be aware of the ice conditions themselves, but also the weather conditions," he said.

Haney says it is best to err on the side of caution, and not go out on the ice. 

However he says if you do go out and fall through that the best thing you can do is stay calm to avoid gasping and taking on water.

It is also a good idea to keep a pair of ice picks with you along with a life jacket.

You are also recommended to check the ice yourself before going out, and not relying on where other people are.


Ryan Juntti

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