Pellatt firefighters, OPP and residents rescue couple from icy waters of Sandy Lake
April 17, 2017
Article by Reg Clayton
Ornge air ambulance arrives at Lake of the Woods District Hospital with one of the two people who went through the ice on Sandy Lake in Pellatt township on Friday, April 14. The second victim arrived by Norhtwest EMS land ambulance at approximately the same time, 10:45 a.m. Reg Clayton/Miner and News
It was a Good Friday indeed for a Pellatt Township couple rescued from the icy waters of Sandy Lake on the morning of April 14.
Pellatt United Firefighters received a call at about 9:30 a.m. from a distraught family member who reported that their mother had gone through the ice outside the shoreline home on the lake across from the fire hall.
Pellatt Fire Chief Barry Bennett was among the first firefighters and Kenora district OPP personnel to arrive at the scene by road.
Bennett learned the woman went out on the lake to save the family dog who had gone through the ice and then ended up in the same predicament. The woman’s 60-year-old husband also went through when he went out to rescue his wife, 57.
Initial efforts to get the couple to self-rescue weren’t successful as they were unable to pull themselves up onto the ice.
The first responders, assisted by the couple’s family members and neighbours, quickly organized a rescue utilizing ropes as well as a canoe and kayak on site.
Attired in life jackets and with the canoe tethered by a rope to shore, two first responders went out and pulled the man out as he was closest.
Then a Pellatt firefighter and an OPP officer went back out in the canoe, breaking their way through the lake ice to where the woman was hanging onto the snowmobile sled she had taken with her. The rescuers and the woman were reeled in by volunteers pulling on the rope attached to the canoe.
“The were cold that’s for sure but other than that they were in pretty good shape considering they had been in the water for about 30 minutes,” Bennett said.
According to the fire chief, the man was taken to Lake of the Woods District Hospital by land ambulance while the woman was medivaced by Ornge air ambulance.
But what about the dog?
“The dog was still out there,” Bennett said. “A volunteer firefighter went out in the kayak and pulled him out.”
Wrapping up the scene at about 10:30 a.m., Bennett returned to the Pellatt fire hall reflecting on the events of the morning. He no sooner arrived when dispatch informed him of a second incident; another dog had gone through the ice on Sandy Lake.
“This isn’t what we’re supposed to do but we had all the gear ready anyhow so we went out and got him,” Bennett related. “Two people and two dogs rescued, not bad for a Good Friday.”
The following day he received a call from the couple’s daughter informing him her parents were well although somewhat embarrassed about the incident.
Bennett noted the rapidly deteriorated ice conditions on Sandy Lake and other area lakes can be very deceptive at this time of year.
“The ice was fairly strong close to shore but weaker further out,” he said. “Everything was happening very fast but the training kicked in, people were helping out and fortunately the result was a good one. It shows what can happen when a small community pulls together.”
It’s probably a good idea to keep dogs on a leash when near the waterfront too.