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Shelf ice safety tips as search for missing 22-year-old continues

Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 5:47 PM EST
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MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (WNDU) -Search crews continue searching for missing 22-year-old Bryce Dunfee who fell through a sheet of shelf ice at Indiana Dunes on Monday.

16 News now tells us how to stay out of harm’s way during the rest of the winter season.

Beach and water safety are important to understand no matter what coast you’re on, and apparently no matter the temperatures.

Taking a step out onto an ice shelf on Lake Michigan can end up being a deadly choice.

What might look stable from a distance might not be safe once you’re standing on it.

Waves in the water create air pockets under the ice making it much thinner in some areas rather than others.

This can not only lead to people breaking through into the frigid lake water, but it can also lead to drops of several feet making it extremely difficult to get out and be found.

When it comes to the buildup of ice on Lake Michigan, it’s good to remember that there’s no such thing as safe ice.

“Very dangerous to be going out onto shelf ice any time of the year. There’s always going to be some type of instability with it especially when the water and air temperatures are going up,” said Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project Director Dave Benjamin.

It only takes minutes for a fall like that to cause someone to drown or get hypothermia.

“You’re not going to be able to get out because it’s a smooth ice cavern that you’re in. So if someone doesn’t see you go through that, they’re not going to be able to locate you. They’re not going to be able to rescue you without hammering through that ice peak, or getting a ladder down there, or a rope with a harness,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin said the last few days of warm weather might have melted some of the shelf ice, but still use these tips when our current cold temps slowly bring the ice back.

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