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Stranded Essex snowmobiler rescued after frigid 8 hours on ice

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#1 Rox028802


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Posted 02 February 2011 - 09:14 PM


WINDSOR, Ont. -- A 45-year-old Essex man got a birthday gift to remember Wednesday when he was found alive and transported to hospital following a frigid night stranded on an ice floe in Lake Erie after his snowmobile fell through the ice.

The snowmobiler -- James Turton -- and three friends on a total of three snowmobiles were traveling on Lake Erie about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday when the ice cracked about 1.5 km offshore near the 500 block of Lakeview Drive, between Colchester Harbour and County Road 23 in Essex. Today is Turton's birthday.

Two of the three snowmobiles fell through the ice and all four riders were bucked into the frozen waters.

All four clambered back atop the ice but a lone rider found himself on the wrong side of the ice break and began to float away from his friends and the shore. The fissure was initially 20-feet wide but quickly grew to a 100-foot chasm, said police.

The three snowmobilers rushed back to shore to get help for their stranded friend from the Essex OPP, paramedics and the Kingsville and Essex Fire departments.

Kingsville firefighters took to the water in a rescue boat but could not find the missing snowmobiler Tuesday night. The U.S. Coast Guard and RCC Trenton dispatched crews to the scene but the search was called off late Tuesday because of blizzard conditions.

"Conditions were extreme with blowing winds and snow squalls," said police in a release.

The missing snowmobiler was spotted by the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Morro Baby walking on the ice about 8 a.m. Wednesday and has been transported to hospital for treatment. His condition is unknown at this time.

His three companions -- aged 54, 35, 34 and all from Essex -- were treated for cold by paramedics Tuesday night and are said to be in good condition.

Turton was alert and talking when rescuers reached him and he suffered no life-threatening injuries.

The Morro Bay was engaged in icebreaking operations in the western end of Lake Erie overnight when it received a call to assist the RCC (Rescue Command Centre) Trenton in a search for a man believed to be floating on an ice floe.

The 140-foot Morro Bay is normally stationed in New London, Conn. but has been seconded to the base in Cleveland for the winter to assist with icebreaking operations in the Great Lakes.

At around 8 a.m. the man was spotted by members of the icebreaker tug's 30-member crew and he was brought aboard before being transferred to the Canadian Coast Guard ship Samuel Risley and later transported to hospital.

"It just shows how well we work together," said USCG Petty Officer George Degener from the Coast Guard's Cleveland base.

Degener said efforts are underway to get more details about the rescue but the ship's crew is busy at work doing icebreaking.

Police are advising winter sports enthusiasts to avoid snowmobiling on ice if they are unsure about its thickness.

More to come.

#2 Jen K

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 09:20 PM

OMG.... I heard about this first thing this morning, but when I heard about it they were assuming he was drowned..

Its a miracle.. wow..



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Posted 02 February 2011 - 10:47 PM

OMG.... I heard about this first thing this morning, but when I heard about it they were assuming he was drowned..

Its a miracle.. wow..

Same here! I am so glad to hear he was found. Thats awesome news.

#4 Hunnybunches


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Posted 02 February 2011 - 11:06 PM

Glad tax dollars pay for peoples stupidity!Lets go snowmobiling during a snowstorm,and on ice thats not only affected by currents in that area,but possibly unstable after last weeks milder temps.Im glad hes okay,but what an effing bunch of idiots

#5 Jen K

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 08:06 AM

It amazes me the amount of people out on the ice on the Puce River, the Lake and small ponds here.. Mind you we have had some colder temperatures this year, but the average temperature in the Winter for this area is -5, there is just no way I would let my kids out on the ice here, I just dont feel that we have consistently cold enough temperatures to keep the ice solid and thick..

I have seen people on the ice here when there is obviously puddles on top...

#6 Jill


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Posted 03 February 2011 - 08:08 AM

Glad he's ok.. There are much worse things to see our tax dollars go to. Good idea or not, I'd much rather see how well the dollars CAN work!

Worse nightmare, that must have been!

#7 Alphabet_Soup


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Posted 03 February 2011 - 12:21 PM

All of my uncles and male cousins think that water skipping on a snow machine is a good idea, talk about idiots. I'm glad this man is safe but people need to learn when it's safe to ride on the ice, and what kind of precautions they need to take. If you go on the ice, make sure you wear a snowsuit that has a life preserver in it. Also you can get ice picks that you can carry to help pull you up out of the ice. Once you get wet, it's hard to pull yourself up with all your equipment being water logged. Fortunately, when my aunt and uncle went through the ice at our family camp, they were able to get out quickly and safely. They were also lucky to save their machine as the skis were stuck into the ice so it didn't sink to the bottom of the lake.

#8 Trea


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Posted 04 February 2011 - 08:40 AM

I am glad he is OK...

I would love to see these idiots charged for their "rescue". Sorry you are stupid you should pay! If you take the risk, knowing you could fall in then you should be willing to accept the fact you may need to be rescued. Be willing to pay the cost of that rescue!

When I go walking on the river I take it slowly and I often probe ahead of me. WHY? because it is the smart thing to do. I don't want to fall in. I don't want to need rescue. Snowmobiling on the ice in the river is asking for something bad to happen.