A man who fell through the ice on the Thames River Thursday afternoon was lucky to get away unharmed.
“The individual had fallen through the ice two or three times but was up on top of the ice when we got here,” said Chatham-Kent Fire Station 2 Capt. Jeff Goarley.
“He’s very fortunate that the neighbour at this address was able to see him and call it in to 911.”
Firefighters, dressed in ice commander suits and armed with life lines and a yellow rescue sled, were able to walk out to where the man was standing near the middle of the river.
The ice clearly showed pockets of water pooling on the top and areas of wear along old snowmobile tracks.
Firefighters were able to fit the man with a life jacket and walk him to shore under his own steam.
Paramedics were on scene to assess the man, who was drenched and very cold, but unharmed, said Sgt. Steve Kloostra with the Chatham-Kent police.
“In this case it’s a lesson learned, no charges will apply,” said Kloostra.
He added residents need to stay clear of ice on creeks, rivers and lakes as temperatures continue to climb during the day.
“This incident shows clearly how unstable the ice is,” said Kloostra. “The warmer weather has made it inconsistent and unreliable. Especially on the river. The current’s going a lot faster than you think.”
Kloostra said the man was lucky he was able to pull himself out of the water and stay on top of the ice.
“Otherwise this could have had a very different ending,” he said.
Goarely said firefighters went through ice water training a few weeks ago to ensure they were up-to-date on and prepared for any rescues that might arise with the spring thaw.
“We’re trained in this type of rescue,” Goarley said. “We have the safety gear and the back-up measures in place for the individuals that go out on the ice to ice fish and they’re not aware of how much the conditions have deteriorated.”