NISSWA-First responders-dressed in "gumby suits" and equipped with ropes and sleds-rescued two anglers who'd fallen through the ice in separate incidents Monday on area lakes.
The first ice rescue was reported around 2:15 p.m. on Big Portage Lake in rural Backus and the second rescue was reported about 3 p.m. on Gladstone Lake in Nisswa.
Both anglers were transported to area hospitals.
Capt. Scott Goddard with the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office advised all residents to stay off the ice, as it's not safe and is considered dangerous at this time of year.
"Today's ice rescues are a perfect example on why people need to stay off the ice," Goddard said. "The first responders (on the Gladstone Lake ice rescue) had troubles getting to the angler. This could have easily turned into a tragic ending. People who do go on the ice need to think about the risk they are putting themselves in, the risk they are putting the first responders in and the risk they are putting the neighbors in, who volunteer to help anglers who fall through the ice. ... No fish is worth this risk."
Ron Odash, who lives near the boat access on Gladstone, and his friend Spencer Bobst of Brainerd, were in Odash's garage working when Bobst saw a fisherman go through the ice. Gladstone Lake is a 437-acre lake located near Lake Hubert and Round Lake, southeast of Nisswa.
"My buddy ran and got me and asked where a ladder was and took off to save the fisherman," Odash said. "I called 911 and then drove my truck to the landing."
Bobst said the ice was dangerous, but he did not hesitate to help the angler. He followed the "white lines," as that was where the thickest ice was located. Bobst walked about 500 feet from shore to the angler.
"I was able to get him on top of the ice and onto the ladder," Bobst said. "He was cold. ... It was dangerous out there. It wasn't going well. It was going south quickly because of the ice conditions."
As Bobst was on the ice with the angler, the Nisswa Fire Department arrived with their equipment. Nisswa Fire Chief Shawn Bailey said about a dozen firefighters/first responders working together quickly and were able to safely rescue the angler and Bobst. Bailey said the angler, who is a 65-year-old man, was transported by North Memorial Ambulance to Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd for non-life-threatening injuries.
Bailey said North Memorial Air Care was called to respond, but were canceled en route.
The Breezy Point Police Department assisted Nisswa fire, the sheriff's office and North Memorial on scene.
"I'm glad to see he is out of the water," Bobst said.
Odash said he has seen people fishing on Gladstone Lake for the past couple of days.
"It doesn't look safe to me," he said.
Goddard considered the quick-responding rescuers, Odash and Bobst, to be heroes for what they did.
Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch said the sheriff's office received a report of a three-wheeler that had gone through the ice and a subject was in the water on Big Portage Lake, a 902-acre lake near Backus. Deputies and first responders arrived and learned that an additional victim, who had attempted to assist the driver of the ATV, was also in the water. Both parties were rescued by fire and first response personnel. The Walker Fire Department, utilizing their hovercraft, was able to transport the victims to shore for medical treatment. Both victims, adult males, were transported via North Memorial Air Care to a St. Cloud hospital for additional treatment.
Burch said responders encountered very poor ice conditions and he warned the public of unsafe travel on all area lakes due to quickly deteriorating ice conditions.
The rescue was a joint effort between Cass County Sheriff's Office, Backus Fire and Rescue, Hackensack Fire and Rescue, Walker Fire Department, North Memorial Ambulance and Air Care.
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This article was edited Tues., March 28 to correct the spelling of the surname of Ron Odash. It had been incorrectly spelled as Adash.