On Saturday, Apr. 11, the U.S Coast Guard saved a pair of ice-trapped fishermen in Lake Michigan by using a helicopter’s downdraft to blow the chunks of ice away from the boat, creating a safe exit.
Here is the video taken from the Coast Guard chopper’s hoist camera.
The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City’s Facebook page had this to say about the video:
An Air Station Traverse City Aircrew responded to a boat that was trapped in ice near Holland, Michigan. The ‘Outside the Box’ thinking by the aircrew allowed the helicopter to clear a path to shore, saving both the vessel and the people onboard.
Michael Martin, a local Fox 17 reporter, said that the two fishermen set out early Saturday morning. Ice chunks then surrounded the boat and trapped the men. They were forced to call 911 for help.
The Coast guard tried sending in its own boat crews, but ice blocked their path too. The only way to reach the blockaded boat was by air. But, as Martin describes, the helicopter could not safely hoist the men from the boat:
The air crew decided against lifting the men directly from the boat to their copter, worried the force from their rotors would capsize the vessel- noting it was surrounded by ice chunks that were 20-30 feet wide and two feet thick.
Having exhausted all the standard strategies for maritime rescue, the Coast Guard was running out of options. Luckily, the rescuers soon realized that the downdraft from the rotors could clear a path.
It took a while, but after 45 minutes of ice clearing, the boat and its two passengers made it safely to shore. Neither of the fishermen needed medical attention.