Despite freezing temperatures throughout the state, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers urge ice-goers to use extreme caution when on or near the ice and know what to do if you or someone you’re with breaks through the ice.
Conservation officers urge ice safety after several incidents statewide
Sgt. Jason Becker, who patrols southeast Michigan, reports that six snowmobiles have fallen through the ice in that region over the past 11 days.
“We’re seeing a mix of situations – snowmobilers riding into open water and snowmobilers who break through the ice,” Becker said. “Be aware of the ice conditions before you go out. Do not rely on yesterday’s conditions. Weather changes can rapidly affect the ice in a short amount of time, even if it’s a sudden drop in the temperature.”
On Jan. 22, Upper Peninsula conservation officers near Garden responded to reports of drowning after strong winds created a 4- to 5-foot-wide pressure crack, exposing a portion of Lake Michigan.
Officers said an angler had been operating his off-road vehicle to or from his ice shanty, which was located on the far side of the ice that the pressure crack had separated. It appeared the man mistakenly navigated his ORV into the open water, where it then sank 10 to 15 feet.
The DNR encourages everyone to pay close attention to the ice’s different characteristics, wear an insulated snowmobile suit (that can serve as a personal flotation device) or a personal flotation device, and carry ice picks in an accessible location.
For more ice safety information go to Michigan.gov/IceSafety.
Locate places to snowmobile and read more about snowmobile safety at Michigan.gov/RideRight.
Michigan Snowmobile & Drowning Incidents in 2021
- On January 24th, a 26-year-old Wixom resident went through the ice on his snowmobile on Wolverine Lake when it broke through the ice and into an area of open water. The Oakland County Dive team recovered the body submerged under the ice.
- A 64-year-old from Garden Michigan drowned in waters off Lake Michigan on Big Bay De Noc, offshore. The man’s body was floating in the water near what appeared to be a pressure crack formed in the ice.
- On Lake Fenton, four people were riding two snowmobiles on the lake when both went through the ice. One person fell through the ice, and two snowmobiles had to be recovered from the water. The person in the water was able to get out.
- In early January, two people were saved on Lake St. Helen and another on Houghton Lake. The Houghton Lake rescue involved a father on his snowmobile who fell through the ice while pulling his 12-year-old daughter on a sled.