Local emergency services are urging the public to practise extreme caution when out on the ice of Lake Windermere this winter.
“Due to unseasonably warm conditions we are not dealing with our typical ice surface this year,” Windermere Fire Department deputy fire chief Drew Sinclair said.
“This time of year we are generally dealing with what you would call safe ice conditions, but it’s pretty much our standpoint that no ice is safe.”
A biker plunged through the ice near the Timber Ridge docks about 125 feet from shore at about 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 7.
This is not the first case of someone falling through the ice this winter either. The Windermere Fire Department also responded to a call on the lake on Boxing Day, and has received reports of at least three other incidents.
In this case, the biker that fell through the ice was pulled out by four youth playing hockey nearby, a woman walking her dog and another man who stopped as he was driving by, and was out of the ice by the time the fire department’s ice rescue crew and Columbia Valley RCMP arrived at the scene.
The man was then taken to the hospital where Sinclair said he is reportedly recovering well.
While the actions taken by the people who rescued were no doubt courageous, Sinclair says that he would not generally encourage people to attempt rescues on their own.
“We were glad to see that they were able to safely extract him without endangering themselves,” Sinclair said. “That’s one of our biggest worries.”
In case of emergency, Sinclair advises that police and fire services are called immediately, and urges the public use “extreme caution” when on the lake this winter.
“We want people to be aware of these unseasonable, dangerous conditions, as many people have no idea the ice is so thin in places,” said Sinclair. “This was clearly evident today when, after someone had been rescued after falling through the ice, people were riding and walking in the immediate area. We cannot stress enough how dangerous it can be out there.”
For more ice safety tips from the Canadian Red cross, click here.
*Story was edited Tuesday January 10, as more details from the RCMP became available.