Coast Guard rescues 16 people and 3 dogs stranded from Little Presque Isle

d9MARQUETTE, Mich. – First Responders from the Coast Guard, Marquette County Rescue and Marquette Township Fire Department rescued 16 people from Little Presque Isle off of Marquette after a large area of ice that the persons used to get onto the Island weakened and broke away, Sunday.

Shortly after 5 p.m. local time, a Watchstander at the Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie Command Center received a call from Marquette County Dispatch requesting assistance for 16 people stranded on Little Presque Isle. One of the stranded persons used a cell phone to call 911.

The Watchstander directed the launch of an ice rescue team from Coast Guard Station Marquette. Within 10 minutes, the ice rescue team trailering a 25-foot response boat arrived at, and launched from, Upper Harbor Launch. The Coast Guard crew transited about six miles and arrived on scene within 45 minutes. The crew then inflated a 15-foot inflatable ice rescue craft, known as a “Fortuna,” and transited closer to the stranded persons and other first responders already on scene.

After assessing the conditions of the people and the area between the Isle and the mainland that had previously been connected by ice, personnel from the three agencies used the rescue craft to safely transport 14 adults, 2 children and 3 dogs safely back to shore in groups of 2 and 3. The distance between the Island and mainland was about 30 feet. The entire evolution took about an hour to get everyone safely back to shore.

Everyone was listed in good condition. There were no injuries and none of the stranded individuals ever entered the water.

Temperatures at the time were reported to be in the mid 60s with strong easterly winds. Warm temperatures and high winds combined to weaken and break apart the ice that the individuals used to get across to the Isle.

The Coast Guard and partnering agencies continue to warn people to stay off ice, particularly during this time of the year. Warm temperatures continue to weaken ice.

In addition, people are advised to remain off of the water. Areas of open water that appear to be safe and free of ice can quickly become clogged by ice shelves and large chunks of ice being moved by strong winds. These conditions can occur quickly, stranding unsuspecting individuals with no way to get back to shore and creating life-threatening situations.

“We can not stress enough the dangers of ice,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Arron Wohlander, command duty officer at the Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie Command Center. “Weeks ago we were warning that the ice was weakening. Now we are warning people that the ice has weakened to the point that it can break apart and be blown in different directions by the wind, creating dangerous and life-threatening situations. An ice shelf the size of a football field can quickly trap someone offshore with no way back in.”

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