A safety reminder for ice fishing following missing snowmobiler false alarm
A false alarm search and rescue effort has sparked reminders about ice fishing safety.
Wellington County first responders were called to Bellwood Lake around 9 a.m. on Saturday for reports of a missing snowmobiler.
The 911 caller saw the empty vehicle on the frozen body of water when they decided to ring in.
The driver of the vehicle was found shortly after about 700 feet away ice fishing. They decided to walk the rest of the way after the snowmobile got stuck in the slush.
“We didn’t realize they were there until we got out onto the ice and started doing our investigation,” said Brad Patton, Wellington County fire chief. “If you’re not sure still give us a call and we’ll come and check it out.”
He adds that they get these type of calls every year and treat each as a high priority.
Patton advises that ice should be at least 10 centimetres thick for walking and at least 15 for riding. He recommends anyone riding a vehicle should park it close to an ice hut so people know where they are.
The Grand River Conservation Authority tested the ice on Belwood Lake Friday and opened it up for ice fishing.
“There’s a lot of people excited to get on the ice because it’s been a really slow season,” said Wally Olkusz, an avid ice fisher. “I always check the shoreline because the water levels change over the winter.”
He also makes sure to have his flotation survival suit and to check ice thickness with a spud when he’s around unfamiliar bodies of water.
“You never know,” said Olkusz. “There could be a spring underneath and any kind of water movement will thin the ice.”
The GRCA says Shades Mills in Cambridge and Pinehurst near Cambridge are not open for ice fishing. They advise anyone unsure about the safety of a body of water to give them a call or check online.