PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) – A US. Coast Guard helicopter crew used the wind from the rotor blades to clear a path through the ice for two men who got stuck in Lake Michigan while fishing, the agency says.
The rescue happened Saturday about a half mile from the mouth of Lake Macatawa. The lakes meet in Ottawa County’s Park Township, west of Holland.READ MORE: Michigan Public Service Commission Says The State Won't Be Affected By Gas Shortage
“This was definitely the most out-of-the-box case I’ve been involved with.” Lt. Rocco Franco, one of the pilots, said in a statement. “It’s not very often that our helicopter is used as an ice breaker.”
The Coast Guard said it received a call about two anglers in a 16-foot boat who were in distress.
“The two men had been fishing near the mouth of Lake Macatawa when they quickly became beset in ice being moved by strong southwest winds,” the agency said in a statement.
The Coast Guard first sent a 47-foot boat from its Grand Haven station, but ice prevented the rescuers from getting closer than six miles from the men.
A helicopter arrived overhead about 11 a.m. “to find the fishermen and their 16-foot boat surrounded by a vast ice shelf consisting of large chunks of ice, some 20-30 feet wide and two-feet thick,” the Coast Guard said. “Due to the ice coverage, the fishermen had no way to get back to shore.”READ MORE: Five Michigan Students Named 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars
The crew decided against trying to hoist the men onto the helicopter because they feared the rotor wash might capsize the boat, the statement said.
“It was then that the aircrew saw the ice beginning to part and break up from the rotor wash,” the Coast Guard said. “The aircrew continued to hover between 50-80 feet above the ice for about 45 minutes, maneuvering the craft so that the rotor wash could create an open path for the fisherman to finally head to shore.”
Both men were in good condition and didn’t need medical attention, the Coast Guard said.
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