In a tragic accident, a man from Georgina dies after his ATV crashed through a patch of thin ice on Lake Simcoe.
Last Saturday, February 3, two men riding on an ATV near Duclos Point, roughly 20 km east of Georgina, went through the ice at around 2.30 p.m.
For weeks, local authorities and outfitters have reported that ice conditions on the lake remain unstable and that people should be cautious while venturing on the lake with vehicles.
Many areas on Lake Simcoe have very thin ice right now and are hard or even impossible to spot while riding vehicles on the ice, which explains this latest incident.
The York Regional Police Marine Unit was called to the scene and was able to rescue both males.
Shortly after the incident, though, the older of the two, a 69-year-old Georgina resident,
suffered a medical emergency and, despite life-saving efforts, was pronounced dead.
I want to send my condolences to the deceased man’s family and friends. Losing a friend or loved one this way is both shocking and traumatic.
This fatal accident, among other incidents that have lately occurred on Lake Simcoe, has made local authorities warn snowmobilers, ice anglers, and ATV drivers to be vigilant and wary of the lake’s worsening ice conditions.
The Latest in a Series of Lake Simcoe Incidents
Last weekend’s tragic event is only the latest of a series of ice-related accidents on Lake Simcoe.
On January 26, the York Police Marine Unit had to rescue an ice angler on a snowmobile that had gone through near Duclos Point (Georgina).
A few days later, on January 31, the Marine Unit had to rescue a man going through the ice while riding an ATV near Thorah Island.
Additionally, local outfitters have reported pulling out machines almost daily.
Local Police Issues Warning About Thic Ice on Lake Simcoe
The York Regional Police Marine Unit is reminding people to stay safe and be careful while being on the ice on Lake Simcoe.
In a written statement online, the Police explains that:
“The ice thickness on Lake Simcoe can vary based on currents below the surface and temperatures above. Uneven cracks can quickly form, resulting in hazardous obstacles for snowmobilers.
Check with your local ice hut operators for information on the latest ice conditions.
Remember: No ice or body of water surface is ever completely safe. Citizens must take individual responsibility in evaluating the dangers of any recreational activity. If you make educated choices regarding safety, accidents can be prevented.”
General Ice Safety Tips
Here are some helpful safety tips that should be remembered and followed every time you head out ice fishing.
Tip #1: Always check ice thickness
The first and most important thing is always to check the thickness of the ice!
Generally speaking, you should stay off ice that’s less than 4 inches thick. PERIOD!
Personally, I prefer 6 to 8 inches, just in case. However, you must check the ice on your way out constantly.
4 inches of ice can quickly turn into 2 or 1 inch. And boom, you’re going through!
Please keep that in mind, especially in warm and shifting weather conditions like these. I know the urge to head out there for the first time is strong, but that first ice fishing trip surely isn’t worth your life, is it?
Remember: no matter how solid or thick it might be, no ice is 100% safe!
Here are some excellent quotes from ice anglers sharing their wisdom on Facebook:
Be very cautious on ice with snow on it. Snow insulates and can hide thin ice.Brian Stewart
If there’s less than 4″ of ice, stay home and charge batteries, respool reels, sharpen fillet knives, etc.Washburn Gitchigumi
Don’t be impatient!Daryle Kaskiw
Just cause you got on the 1st time doesnt mean it is safe the next time, when we have (warm) weather like this.Douglas Pries
Tip #2: Trust your spud bar
A spud bar or ice chisel is probably your most important tool on the ice! It’ll help you check the thickness and compactness of the ice.
Personally, I wouldn’t head out without one. It’s really vital!
A spud bar allows you to test the ice quickly and frequently, saving you time and energy, as you won’t have to drill dozens of holes with your auger.
For thinner ice of about 4 inches, you can even use it to make your holes. This way, you skip carrying around that heavy ice auger and build some extra muscle.
Here are a few valuable quotes from other ice anglers on Facebook:
People should spud-step-spud. Use a spud bar always when going on thin ice!Tom Judd
Spud your way out. Test frequently.Eric Olson
One or two hits with your heavy spud bar,in the same exact spot, the ice is usually 2 inches thick. 4 or more hits in the same spot, its usually about 4 inches of ice and you should be able to fish it.Tommy Rudack
Tip #3: Always wear ice picks
Never go on the ice without wearing that good old, trusted pair of ice picks around your neck!
If, God forbid, you should fall through, these things can end up saving your life!
Without them, you might never be able to pull yourself out of the water and onto the ice.
So please don’t take them off while ice fishing. That’s not the point of bringing them!
There’s also an important psychological aspect to consider here, as ice picks can give you peace of mind by simply wearing them.
Here’s what some of the ice anglers on Facebook have to say about ice picks:
I’ve gone through when there was no snow on the ice, impossible to get back on top when water from falling through gets on the surface. Ice Picks were the difference that day.Greg Eaton
Make sure your ice picks are quickly available!Sean Thurman
Tip #4: Don’t go ice fishing alone
This is a great safety tip for early ice that you might be uncertain about.
The buddy system can ensure that your friend or friends can help you in case of an emergency or that you can help your friend or friends!
Making your way back onto the ice alone can sometimes be an impossibility. Having someone around who could help you or quickly get help can make all the difference!
Besides, it’s always more fun to go fishing together with your buddies.
Here are some great quotes from other ice anglers:
Number one! Always go out with someone.Kevin Locke
On first ice, less than 4″, don’t stand around in a crowd!Thomas H Pospiech Sr
Featured image courtesy of Shawn Chang