Snowmobilers warned to stay off the ice after three deaths in same day
BARRIE, ONT. -- Snowmobilers are urged to stay off the ice this weekend after three men lost their lives after riding along areas of Georgian Bay.
On Sunday, a father and son from Coldwater died after plunging into the icy waters of Sturgeon Bay in Victoria Harbour. The same day, a Midland man was pulled from the water at Midland Point and later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The tragedies prompted police to remind sledders that ice conditions are unpredictable. The unseasonably mild temperatures and high water levels haven't helped to thicken the ice.
In a video posted to Twitter, Southern Georgian Bay OPP Const. Kris Beatty says it's a tricky situation for rescue teams to get to a scene after someone has gone into the water, with time being of the essence.
Beatty says people need to think of the survival factor if they decide to travel across waterways and suddenly find themselves in the freezing water.
"You've got one minute to gather your composure, get your breathing under control. You've got 10 minutes of meaningful movement in that cold water. Then you've got approximately one hour of survival after that if you exit the water," Beatty says.
Tay Township Fire Department Deputy Chief Shawn Aymer says after those 10 valuable minutes, the odds of survival are slim for anyone in the water.
"If you are in the water after that point, you would more likely drown than have hypothermia unless you attach yourself to the ice shelf and hang on for emergency responders," Aymer says.
Police say a flotation suit and ice picks can increase the odds of survival. "Self-rescue is important if you've got ice picks and stuff like that to get yourself out of the water," the OPP constable adds.
Riders are encouraged to stick to marked Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) trails to avoid hidden dangers that could lead to damage, injury or even death.
"No ice is safe ice. There is never any guarantees that if you're travelling on frozen water that it is safe to do so," Beatty concludes.