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Cheating Death on Long Point Bay

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#1 Spiel


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Posted 31 January 2011 - 08:55 AM

Cheating death on Long Point Bay

January 29, 2011

ST. WILLIAMS -A major tragedy south of St. Williams was narrowly averted last weekend thanks to luck and the knowledge three local men have of Long Point Bay in winter.

The alarm went up around 6:20 p.m. Saturday after two men and two women from the Tillsonburg area failed to report to shore after a day of ice fishing.

The group had travelled out to the hut earlier in the day on an all-terrain vehicle. They had a GPS unit, but didn't know how to use it properly.

The private hut they were using was one kilometre off shore. The four packed up to leave around 5 p.m. By that time, however, a fierce snowstorm was blowing across the bay.

As darkness fell, the group became disoriented and ended up heading in the direction of Pottahawk Point. Seven kilometres south of St. Williams, they stopped and agreed they were lost. They dialled 911 on a cell phone.

As the OPP so frequently do under these circumstances, they dialled up reliable members of the St. Williams-Port Rowan community who have knowledge of Long Point Bay. Despite the darkness, dangerous sub-zero temperatures, the howling storm and the risk of frostbite, Darren Propper, Rex Easton and ice-fishing operator Jimmy Granger answered the call.

The Tillsonburg foursome would likely have died save for one clue. As they headed south toward open water, one of them noticed a buoy with the serial number EC-5.

Propper knew where that was. It also told him the group was in serious danger. Wednesday, he said it was only by luck that they were able to find the "needle in the haystack."

"This was unchartered ice," Propper said. "No one had been out that far that I can remember. Let me tell you, it was spooky. It was cold, and there was a blizzard."

Propper, Easton and Granger set out on snowmobiles accompanied by two OPP officers on ATVs. The snowstorm was so thick that they had to leap-frog their way to the area of the missing anglers.

One group would drive ahead until their lights were barely visible, then the rest of the team would catch up and so on. The mission was harrowing because the ice is thinner the farther away one gets from shore. Crashing through and getting wet during the coldest weather of the season would likely have been fatal.

Around 9 p.m., the stranded party saw the rescuers' headlights in the distance and headed toward them. By cell phone, they guided Propper, Easton, Granger and the OPP to their location.

"It was the needle in the haystack," Propper said. "They (the OPP) wouldn't have found them until the storm had cleared. It was nasty, just nasty. I even had my doubts that we would find them."

The missing anglers were scared and chilled to the bone but otherwise uninjured. On shore, they were treated by paramedics.

Propper has worked in the ice fishing industry for 16 years. He shared several things anglers can do to avoid near-death experiences such as this.

First, having a working cell phone is essential. As well, anglers should park their snowmobiles and ATVs facing shore in case they are blinded by a snowstorm. Working with a compass and driving slowly, anglers should be able to make it home despite conditions of limited visibility.

Propper also recommends getting off the ice well before sundown. As well, never venture onto the ice when it is snowing or if the forecast calls for snow.

#2 Joey


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Posted 01 February 2011 - 02:42 PM

Wow, scary stuff :o

#3 splashhopper


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Posted 01 February 2011 - 06:14 PM

Holy smokes. Pretty amazing that they were even rescued at all. Kudo's to the locals and the EMS teams.

#4 Rick2



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Posted 27 February 2011 - 03:21 PM

Don't risk your life by depending solely on a GPS unit, batteries die, units fail to function for a number of reasons. Bring a compass as back up and spare batteries and ensure you know how to use the tools you bring with you.

#5 Loadman



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Posted 27 October 2011 - 10:08 AM

scary and wow..

#6 silly



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Posted 21 April 2012 - 07:08 PM


#7 Dave A

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 03:59 PM

Just remember to take a reading on the compass first.

#8 recordfish



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Posted 27 April 2012 - 11:40 AM

I hope everybody learned a lesson from this story. Always be prepared and make sure you check the weather forecast winter or summer. Don't risk your life not worth it.
And of course special thanks for the rescuers!

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