Multiple Anglers Rescued from Lake Superior After Ice Breaks Free
Angler Jack Norquist Tells FOX 21 Ice Was Roughly 8 - 10 Inches Thick at the Time of the Incident
DULUTH, Minn. – The Northland is a playground for many winter enthusiasts, especially for anglers when temps dip well below zero.
On Tuesday, entertainment turned into an extreme rescue operation as roughly 30 anglers had to be brought back to land after ice on Lake Superior broke free.
“We were out fishing and heard a big loud boom,” said angler Jack Norquist.
“We peeked out, heard some yelling, and then everybody started packing up,” said angler Nick Carlson,
A swift, superior rescue taking place on the greatest of lakes on one of the coldest days of the year.
“You could kind of feel it when you were on the ice, it was vibrating,” said Norquist.
In subzero temps, roughly 30 anglers headed out to hook a big one without knowing their day would end abruptly.
“I’d say a minute or two later, people started sprinting and you could tell something was going on,” said Norquist.
The call for help came in just after 11:00 a.m. from a witness on shore who could see the ice breaking free.
“They had stronger winds than this the day before, so we figured it would be decent, but with current and wind you just never know,” said Norquist.
Norquist and his buddy were able to quickly get to the crack. However, in just moments, it was already three to four feet wide with frigid water rushing by.
“We had to leave our electronics behind – my auger got left behind, my ice house,” said Carlson.
With no time to worry about material goods, Carlson and dozens of others could do nothing but wait.
“It’s unfortunate, but I’m glad everybody got back safe – that’s the main point,” said Carlson.
Duluth Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj says his department deployed safely and swiftly as they train to do. Within 15 minutes, Marine 3 and multiple banana boats deployed for rescue.
“We anticipate something along these lines pretty much every winter,” said Chief Krizaj. “This is probably one of our bigger ones in the last few years.”
Crews from the Duluth Fire Department and St. Louis County Rescue Squad made multiple passes back and forth, prioritizing people before equipment.
“The problem with ice fishing anywhere is it’s only as safe as it is at that time,” said Krizaj.
Chief Krizaj, suggesting an important reminder for those looking to take advantage of the arctic air now blanketing the region.
“Be cautious and be careful, that’s my best recommendation,” said Krizaj.
As for the anglers who had to be rescued, it might take a few days, or even weeks to venture back out.
“Not soon, it scared me a little bit. There are years when it gets safe and good, but we’ll just have to see,” said Norquist.
No injuries were reported.
St. Louis County Rescue Squad did deploy their airboat to help rescue one individual who started walking toward Park Point after the ice cracked.
Chief Krizaj says the best thing anglers can do if this happens in the future is to stay out of the water until rescue crews can get to them.