Coast Guard ice-rescue team saves 56-year-old man near St. Joseph, Mich.

Rear Adm. Peter V. Neffenger uses ice picks to assist him as he pulls himself out of the water as part of ice rescue training at the Ice Capabilities Center of Excellence at Coast Guard Station Saginaw River, Mich. US Coast Guard Photo by Seamen Jason Kellogg.

USCG File Photo

CLEVELAND – An ice-rescue team from U.S. Coast Guard Station St. Joseph, Mich., rescued a 56-year-old man in Lake Michigan, Saturday at approximately 1:30 p.m., CST.

The man was rescued after reportedly falling through the ice while taking pictures of ice cliffs. The victim fell through the ice into about 2 feet of water and called 911 after he was unable to get back onto solid ice.

Station St. Joseph personnel received notification of the person in distress at about 1:20 p.m. from the St. Joseph Police Department.

“It has been absolutely frigid out there lately,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeffrey Catanzarite, a member of Station St. Joseph’s ice-rescue team. “There is about nine inches of snow on the ground, and we’ve also had 30-knot winds that are driving snow and sand all over the place.”

The Coast Guard ice-rescue team, St. Joseph Police Department and St. Joseph Fire Department responded to the scene.

“He was so cold he couldn’t get himself out, and it took myself and three other guys on shore to get him back safely,” said Catanzarite.

The man was assisted back to shore and transferred to awaiting EMS.

Since Great Lakes ice is dangerous and unpredictable, the Coast Guard advises people to remember the following:

I – Intelligence
– check the weather and ice conditions, know where you are going and know how to call for help/assistance.

C – Clothing – wear the proper anti-exposure clothes with multiple layers. If possible, wear a dry suit to prevent hypothermia, which can occur within minutes after falling through the ice.

E – Equipment – have the proper equipment such as a marine band radio, life jackets and screw drivers.

Recreational ice users are encouraged to:

Use the buddy system – NEVER go out on the ice alone.

Dress in bright colors and wear an anti-exposure suit that is waterproof, including a personal flotation device (PFD).

Carry two ice picks or screwdrivers for self-rescue. They are much more effective than using your hands.

Carry a whistle or noise-making device to alert people that you are in distress and a communication device; a VHF-FM radio is more effective and reliable than a cell phone.

Stay away from cracks, seams, pressure ridges and slushy areas, which signify thinner ice.

For more information on ice safety, CLICK HERE.

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