SALT LAKE CITY — Members of two ice fishing groups fell through the ice on Utah reservoirs Saturday morning and survived.
About 10 a.m., one man in a group of friends going ice fishing fell through the ice at East Canyon Reservoir in Morgan and was unable to get himself out of the water. The rest of the group members were not equipped to rescue him — one jumped in and tried to help, but was only able to get himself back out, not the first victim.
A member of the group was able to call the park ranger's office. Ranger Chris Haramoto was able to rescue the man using a rope, which wasn't easy, however; Haramoto said the man had lost fine motor skills by that point and had a difficult time grasping the rope.
The man spent about 10 minutes in the freezing water.
Luckily, Jason Dolan and his family were at a small rented cabin just a short hike up the hill from the lake and were able to help the man get warm.
Dolan saw the commotion just after Haramoto arrived.
"At first, I was in shock. I thought it was a training or something going on. Then I realized it was the fishermen that were out there," he said.
Dolan rushed down the hill to help the rescue efforts, then helped the man to the warm cabin.
"When we got him out, his whole body had already started going numb, and it was challenging getting him up the mountain," he said. "By the time we got him up here, I'm pretty sure he couldn't feel any of his body and he was starting to go into shock."
Haramoto said he was not quite hypothermic, but close.
The rescuers helped the man take his freezing wet clothes off before wrapping him in warm blankets.
"His pants literally froze to his body by the time we got him up here," Dolan said.
Emergency personnel arrived shortly afterward and helped monitor his health before determining he was OK.
Dolan said it took a little more than an hour to get the man back to feeling normal.
Haramoto warned others who go out ice fishing to bring equipment for such unexpected emergencies, such as a rope, and to never go alone.
“Go with a buddy, which he did," Haramoto said. "That probably saved his life."
He also suggested calling state parks or checking their websites and social media in advance to see if the ice is safe to walk on.
The ice the group was fishing on Saturday had just barely frozen the night before, so they were only fishing on an inch or inch and a half of ice, Haramoto said.
"Kind of get a little feel for the ice conditions at the places that you visit," he said. "People need to realize, too, that there’s no such thing as safe ice."2 comments on this story
Earlier Saturday morning, about 8:30 a.m., three people riding two snowmobiles across the frozen Strawberry Reservoir on their way to go fishing hit an area with "little ice coverage" and fell into the water, according to Wasatch County Search and Rescue.
All three were able to get themselves out of the water and call for help, and were treated by Wasatch County Emergency Medical Services with no injuries reported.
The snowmobiles, however, were lost to the depths of the reservoir.
"The ice layers on the lake are not uniform. Some areas can still be dangerous. Be careful out there," Wasatch Search and Rescue warned.
Contributing: Cara MacDonald, Merri Golightly, Sean Moody