Edward Humber and Colin Lucas, who are both 64 years of age and residents of Stephenville Crossing, had gone ice fishing for trout at the same location on Thursday morning and everything went fine; however, when they returned in the afternoon they broke through the ice.
Humber said while his buddy was able to roll like a seal and find good ice, he wasn’t so fortunate. With his coat undone and hauling him down and ice breaking away, he was having some difficulty trying to get hold of something solid.
While the two had a sled, which he was holding onto, the ice just kept breaking away and the sled would sink on his end. He said at one point, Lucas almost got him out, but not quite.
With the water only five to six feet deep, he was able to push himself up as needed but the length of time in the frigid water was starting to take its toll. He feels that had he taken off his coat he might have been able to make it.
Meanwhile a passerby had witnessed the two men in trouble and called the RCMP. Corporal Joe Anderson and Constable Todd Davidson, who were carrying out a patrol in the area at the time, about 1:10 p.m., responded. Using a rope they had in the trunk of their cruiser, they threw it out to Humber and hauled him in to shore.
Both men were soaking wet and were immediately attended to, then taken to Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital in Stephenville by ambulance, where they were treated and released later on Thursday.
Humber said when he arrived at the hospital he was still in a bit of shock after being in the cold water for about 20 minutes, which seemed more like an hour. He said the nurses treated him really well and remembers a hot cup of tea he was given taking the cold right out of his body.
He had some concerns when he was in the water due to prior health issues; however, he said he was surprised at the strength of the human body.
Humber said he and Lucas have been ice fishing pretty well daily when weather permitted and have caught a lot of trout at Little River, including one that weighed in at two and a half pounds.
He admits there was some stupidity on his part.
“It (the ice) looked white; however, there were spots where brown water was forming and that’s usually a sign there could be a problem. I guess we shouldn’t have gone out there in the afternoon,” Humber said.
Being an experienced ice fisher, he is aware southeasterly wind is a bad one on the ice.
“I think the weather played tricks on us,” he said.
Humber said after the strong winds on Thursday, he wouldn’t advise people to be on the ice now, as it’s getting compromised.
While he’s not sure if his friend will go back ice fishing, he said he will be back at it, but will be a lot more careful the next time.