11 people rescued from ice floes off Door County, including 5 children

The fishing group became separated as the ice broke up and drifted from shore
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 3:30 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2023 at 9:14 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

correction: Updates the numbers in each group as we learned new information

BAY OF GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The U.S. Coast Guard responded to a call of 11 people, including 5 children, trapped on ice floes that broke away from the Door County shoreline Monday.

One group of 9 people floated away on one piece of ice in the Bay of Green Bay, three-quarters of a mile off Sherwood Point after the ice became detached. A separate group of 2 was found floating on another piece a quarter-mile from Sherwood Point.

The Coast Guard tells us these 11 were very lucky, as many were surrounded by water without warning when a crack appeared, breaking up a lot of ice. It was pretty windy at the time, which was likely the cause.

”We were fishing, we were all spread out. I was next to one of my buddies -- they had a tent that was further out, towards where the crack was, the main one -- so as we were fishing hear all this cracking. But at one point it was a really loud crack,” fisherman Gabriel Blindu described. “I didn’t really care at the moment. We were trying to catch fish, but then they started screaming ‘Open water!’”

What happened next was a series of 911 calls and a joint rescue effort among the Door County Sheriff’s Department, Department of Natural Resources, and U.S. Coast Guard.

Officials say the group of 11 became divided between two separate pieces of ice which broke off and began to drift.

“Wasn’t that far, but it was a good distance where the water was 40 feet deep where we were at. It was deep. So, could have been dangerous,” Blindu said.

The Coast Guard and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources launched airboats from Potawatomi State Park to bring them back to shore.

“We took the boat from Potawatomi State Park out to Sherwood Point, got the people who were furthest, and then we made our way back in and met up with a group that was closer, a group of about nine people,” Salvatore Delrosario of the Coast Guard described.

The anglers who were stranded kept in touch with emergency dispatchers the entire time.

“They kept on calling to check in, but we heard sirens come pretty quickly,” Blindu said, “probably 15, 20 minutes we heard them from a distance coming, and the firefighters came. They came with a boat to make sure we were all right, and then the other two rafts came and they got us.”>

The Coast Guard says they were in good health after being stranded for about an hour, and part of the reason why is they were dressed for being outside for an extended period of time.

The group didn’t have shanties to protect them from the elements, just sleds to carry their equipment.

“They were just happy we were on scene and there to get them,” Delrosario said.

The Coast Guard and DNR used airboats to reach the people on two ice floes that broke away from the Door County shoreline
Two groups were on the ice when one fisherman says they heard a really large crack