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Ice rescue in St. Joe highlights danger of shifting winter temps

NOW: Ice rescue in St. Joe highlights danger of shifting winter temps

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- With temperatures expected to rise this weekend, a recent ice rescue in St. Joe is serving as a reminder of just how dangerous the winter weather can be.

“There was a man laying there on the ice screaming that his back was hurting him at the time,” said Scott Kosachuk, a lieutenant with the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety.

It was early Thursday morning when two good Samaritans walking along the Bicentennial Bridge that connects St. Joe and Benton Harbor called police after noticing a lone man stuck on a sheet of shelf ice.

“We had two guys go out, walk up to him, get him strapped up on our board,” said Connor Hallinan, with the Coast Guard station in St. Joe. “The rest of our team heaved around and pulled him back in. We had a little trouble with some guys falling through the ice, but all in all we got him back in safe and sound.”

Cellphone video shows the moment one of the officers fell in. He struggled for a short time to climb out.

The ice rescue had a happy ending, but it carries an important message.

“Snow on the ice is real deceiving because you don’t know exactly how thick the ice is under you,” Hallinan said. “A lot of people think they’re invincible and the cold won’t kill them, but it will really quickly.”

The Coast Guard said you can take in the beauty of the shelf ice along Silver Beach, but do so from a safe distance.

It often leaves as fast as it forms, like a wave crashing onto the shore.

“If I could give any advice out there, stay off Lake Michigan’s ice,” said Kosachuk, who was one of the responders to Thursday’s rescue. “If you want to go to the inland lakes where the ice is going to be a lot firmer and solid, enjoy that ice.”

Hallinan said a good motto to follow is one the Coast Guard uses: “No ice is safe ice.”

He also said the Coast Guard follows a 1, 10, 1 system when dealing with ice rescues.

1 minute to control your breathing

10 minutes of meaningful movement in your arms and legs

1 hour of consciousness

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