COOK COUNTY – At approximately 3 pm today, a report of four-stranded ice-fisherman whose snowmobiles became stuck in deep slush on Greenwood Lake came into the Sheriff’s Office. The anglers were using a friend’s cabin on the lake and were able to pick up a Canadian cellular signal to contact the Ontario Provincial Police 911 – the Cook County Sheriff’s Office was then contacted by OPP Dispatch. Cook County Deputies, Search & Rescue, Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department/EMS, Cook County North Shore Health Ambulance and the USFS Law Enforcement responded.
The anglers were not able to communicate their location on the lake. Upon an attempt to locate the victims, the Sheriff’s Office snowmobiles also became stuck. About 14 inches of slush was reported on parts of the lake. Deputies were able to extract one of their snowmobiles and Incident Command then used long-track snowmobiles and responders on snowshoes to initiate the search of the on the 2043-acre lake. Visibility was very limited due to 50 mph wind gusts.
At approximately 5:50 pm, responders located the anglers about two miles in from the landing off Greenwood Lake Road and Fire Box Road. The rescue squad began transporting the parties. One party was showing signs of advanced hypothermia, frostbite and dehydration after being on the ice for many hours in extreme conditions. Emergency responders were able to stabilize the victim while in route to the ambulance staging area and was then transported to the hospital for further treatment. Many roads in the area are impassable this time of year or were drifted overdue to winter storm conditions. Local plowing contractor Al Berglund arrived to clear ambulance road access. Responders began to clear the scene around 8 pm.
“We are fortunate to have dedicated emergency response units who risk their own lives going out in conditions like this to rescue strangers, along with our 911 professionals who manage these calls and responder safety from start to finish,” said Sheriff Pat Eliasen. “We are grateful we were able to get these folks out alive and that all of the responders are going home safely tonight. I highly commend everyone who took part in this operation during extremely tough conditions today. We strongly recommend people heed weather warnings and conditions, let people know where you are going and how long you expect to be gone.”