Dozens Rescued From Wisconsin Ice Floe That Broke Free From Shore

A passing barge may have "disrupted" the floe, stranding people who were ice fishing.

Thirty-four people were rescued in Wisconsin over the weekend after an ice floe suddenly broke free from the shore of Green Bay while they were ice fishing.

The large sheet of ice had floated about a mile from shore by the time everyone was saved on Saturday ― nearly two hours after the rescue operation was launched by the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, New Franken Fire, Green Bay Fire, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Coast Guard. It took rescue boats several trips back and forth to collect everyone.

No one was injured and no one required medical attention, though the sheriff’s office called the situation “extremely dangerous.”

“Although the chunk of ice remained fairly stable, its condition was deteriorating rapidly (and) cracking up as it moved with the open water pounding at the edge of it,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

The sheriff’s office initially reported that 27 people had been rescued, but later raised that number to 34.

Although ice is typically solid along the shore in January, a passing barge “may have disrupted” it, said Lt. John Bain.

Shane Nelson and his friend Robert Verhagen told WLUK Fox 11 that they were ice fishing for the first time ever and heard what sounded like a large gunshot when the ice cracked.

“We thought it was interesting, got out of our shanty, took a look and people were yelling on the ice we’re separating,” said Nelson.

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