Photos show 34 people being rescued after a chunk of ice broke away and drifted 1 mile into a Wisconsin lake

A Brown County Sheriff's Office rescue vehicle seen on January 9, 2021.
A rescue vehicle seen on January 8, 2021. Brown County Sheriff’s Office
  • 34 people were rescued after an ice sheet drifted into a Wisconsin lake on Saturday, authorities said.
  • The ice fishermen were cut off for 90 minutes and later rescued by Brown County sheriff’s deputies.
  • The ice sheet had drifted a mile from the shore by the time the rescues were completed, deputies said.

Thirty-four people were rescued after becoming stranded on an ice sheet that had drifted out into a Wisconsin lake, authorities said Saturday.

The group of ice fishermen were cut off from the shore for around 90 minutes near Green Bay, Lake Michigan, on Saturday morning, deputies with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office told Fox 11

By the time the last person was rescued, the ice had drifted about a mile from the shore, Lt. John Bain said.

Two of the rescued men, Shane Nelson and Robert Verhagen, told Fox 11 they heard a noise like a loud gunshot before the ice started to break away.

Rescue crews at green bay after peopel got stuck on ice sheet
A rescue mission underway near Green Bay, Wisconsin, on January 8, 2021. Brown County Sheriff’s Office

“People were yelling on the ice ‘we’re separating,'” Nelson said, adding that it was his first-ever ice fishing trip.

“Didn’t catch any fish, ran out of propane early and got stranded on the ice,” he said.

Footage of the incident, published by Fox 6 News, showed rescue crews ferrying the fisherman back to land.

Another of the stranded fishermen, Darin Grieger, told WCCO4 that there was little chance to get back onto safe ice once it started breaking up.

“This gap started to grow and grow and grow,” Grieger said. “Within probably 30 seconds it was 10 feet (3.05m), where you’re not going to get across.”

The reason for the ice separation is not immediately known, but Bain told Fox 11 that it could have been caused by a passing ship.

“A barge may have come through and that may have disrupted the ice. The disruption of the ice along with natural occurring conditions may have led to that,” Bain said.

“The current and the winds, things can change fast, and you’re not always aware that they are changing.”

 The US Coast Guard also responded to the incident, the sheriff’s office said on Facebook.

“Happy to report a good ending to this extremely dangerous situation!” the sheriff’s office said.

In February 2020, deputies with the nearby Door County Sheriff’s Office rescued 66 anglers from an ice sheet on Lake Michigan that broke away in similar fashion near Green Bay.