Thursday Dec. 15, South Pigeon Lake Fire Department (SPLFD) and Mulhurst Bay Fire and Rescue Department were dispatched to Pigeon Lake around 1:21 p.m. after a 911 call of a fully submerged vehicle on Pigeon Lake came in.
Upon arrival on scene first responders were thankful to see that the Suburban SUV was only partially submerged, mainly at the rear of the vehicle, and not completely under the ice and water.
They were able to assist the lone occupant of the vehicle to safety and no-one was hurt — or even wet says Incident Command on scene and SPLFD Chief Wayne Benson.
The vehicle was located northeast of the Grandview boat launch. It had fallen partially through the ice when the driver went from driving on a section of the lake where the ice measured approximately 20 inches thick to trying to cross an ice heave/ pressure ridge.
Pressure ridges are compression ruptures in the ice that typically form as long cracks that can be a mile or bigger in size. They usually form after cold spells come to an end and as the ice warms thermal expansion puts compression stress in the ice. When the stress in the ice exceeds the compressive strength it ruptures, creating a dangerous spot for ice crossing.
Using ice anchors, a pulley system, their side-by-sides and their previous ice rescue scenario training, the fire departments were able to successfully remove the SUV from the Lake.
Benson says from the start to absolute finish of rescue, trucks back at the firehall and all, was about four hours.
During the winter and spring Benson cautions everyone to be very aware of their surroundings when on the ice and never take its strength for granted. He recommends talking to the locals living around the lake and local ice fisherman that may be out that day to know where the pressure ridges and weak zones are as they are knowledgeable about the area.