Coast Guard in Detroit assists in rescuing 13 people stranded on ice sheets

The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit assisted in rescuing 13 people who were stranded on ice floes half a mile from the shore near Catawba Island State Park in Ohio.

Seven other people "were able to repair their airboat and return to land," according to Sector Detroit on Facebook.

"An ice floe is a floating sheet of ice that has broken off from a larger ice formation," Sector Detroit stated. "These can be unpredictable and dangerous, especially in areas subject to winds or currents, leading to drift into open waters."

All 20 people are safe. The Coast Guard deployed multiple air-boats and a helicopter to rescue them. 

As layers of ice from the last couple of weeks begin to melt into slush, the Coast Guard is urging people to take precaution around iced-over bodies of water.

"It's getting warmer, for sure, and you're going to have unstable ice," said Zach Askew, a Coast Guard trainee in Detroit.


Community helps 12-year-old after falling through iced-over Dundee pond

A Dundee police officer also fell through the ice as he attempted to save the 12-year-old boy Tuesday morning.

The Coast Guard in Detroit was focused on ice and water rescue training in Belle Isle on Tuesday, layered up in dry suits.

"Being fully submerged, you expect to feel wet," Askew said. "It's not like that at all. It's a little bit cold, but you're completely dry."

A specialized device, a 15-foot SKF-ICE rescue craft, is primarily used to handle short-haul ice rescue cases, according to the Coast Guard.

"That one we use if the ice is a little more unstable or if we have a bigger survivor or more people we have to put on it," Askew said.

The Coast Guard cannot operate their usual boats on the Detroit river right now because of the ice, so they rely on the SKF-ICE crafts, winter training, and their helicopter for backup.

"This is the type of thing we train for – for worst case scenario," said Christian Hutchisson, a maritime enforcement specialist. 

As a part of the Ninth Coast Guard District, Coast Guard Sector Detroit is one of four Sector commands. In the summer, they conduct up to 1300 rescues, and during the rest of the year, they handle an additional 200 rescues.

Coast Guard Sector Detroit is one of four sector commands in the Ninth Coast Guard District, responsible for the Great Lakes. The Ninth District conducts up to 1,300 rescues in the summer, and an additional 200 rescues throughout the rest of the year.

"Just have a plan. Let people know where you're at," Hutchisson said. "Make sure you have a phone that's charged; make sure you're clothed for the weather."