Coast Guard rescues snowmobilers in Saginaw Bay near Bay City

CLEVELAND – The Coast Guard rescued two men after their snowmobiles crashed through the ice about a mile offshore on Saginaw Bay near Bay City, Mich., Saturday night.

Personnel at Coast Guard Station Saginaw River, in Essexville, Mich., received a call from Bay County 911 dispatch at about 9:15 p.m. stating that two people had broken through the ice. The call was made by a third person in the party from his cell phone. The county dispatch told the individuals to remain on site so their location could be determined based on the cell phone information.

A Coast Guard rescue crew from Station Saginaw River launched at about 9:22 p.m. aboard a 20-foot airboat and arrived on scene at approximately 9:45 p.m. Information from a cell phone and a bright light on the snowmobile enabled the Coast Guard crew to quickly locate the individuals.

When the Coast Guard arrived on scene, about a mile off of Jones Road Boat Ramp in southeast Saginaw Bay, the two victims, ages 19 and 45, had already gotten back onto the ice due to the shallow depth of the water. Both were responsive but suffering from hypothermia.

The victims were brought back to the Coast Guard station where they were transferred to Bay County emergency medical services personnel and later taken to McLaren Bay Region Hospital.

People who plan to recreate on ice are urged to exercise caution at all times. A recent increase in temperatures may have weakened ice coverage on area lakes and other waterways.

People are also reminded to wear proper clothing such as dry suits and life jackets, and to carry with them a cell phone, marine radio or personal locator beacon in order to radio for help if needed.

“Because of the individual’s cell phone information and the light on the snowmobile that did not break through the ice, we were able to locate all three people quickly,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Olin Darby, a member of the rescue team. “This shows the importance of carrying proper equipment when venturing out.”

Additional safety information on ice safety can be found in the Coast Guard’s “Think Twice with Ice” safety brochure.

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