On Dec. 2 at 10:06 a.m., the Beltrami County Sheriff's 911 Center received a 911 call from a subject who was stranded, along with his fishing partner, on a piece of ice that had broken free and was floating approximately 3/10 of a mile off the south shore of Upper Red Lake north of Carsella's Landing (Sandberg Rd NE- 47 miles north of Bemidji in Shotley Township).
The fisherman were identified as Blackduck Police Chief and Beltrami County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Wherley and Blackduck Police Officer Josh Arhart. No one was injured in the rescue effort.
The pair had been fishing on 6 inches of ice however a southern wind had developed changing the ice structure.
Responding to the scene or assisting with logistical support were the Kelliher Fire Department, Kelliher First Responders, Red Lake Fire Department, Ponemah Fire Department, Bemidji Fire Department, Blackduck Ambulance, Blackduck Fire Department, U.S. Border Patrol, Department of Natural Resources conservation officer and Beltrami County Sheriff's deputies. Air support, which was deploying from Winnipeg, was cancelled due to success in rescue efforts.
Wind gusts up to 20 mph hampered efforts to deploy boats. In addition the wave action continued to erode the ice floe.
At 11:25 AM the Bemidji Fire hovercraft was able to reach the fishermen who were safely rescued and brought to shore.
The equipment used by the pair did not fall into the lake nor was it submerged. The ATV, portable fish house and fishing equipment was removed on Saturday from Upper Red Lake safely.
On Dec. 6, the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, along with Kelliher Fire and Rescue and Bemidji Fire Department, responded to a call for assistance to some stranded fisherman on Upper Red Lake off the south shore near Rogers Campground.
The fishermen were identified as Jeffrey Theisen, 45, of Sauk Rapids; Wayne Secord, 46, of St. Cloud and Donald Bollig, 60, of St. Joseph.
Once again, a wind out of the south caused the ice to shift and created a 100 ft. strip of water between the shoreline and the fishermen.
As rescuers responded, the fishermen were able to gather their gear (to include a 4-wheeler and trailer) and head in a northeasterly direction looking for solid ice to enable getting to shore safely. There was no cell phone connection to the subjects but fortunately a person that was on shore spotted this emergency and called the Beltrami County Sheriff's 911 Communications Center and provided "eyes on" reporting.
Responders gathered at several locations along the east shore with emergency lights on to provide a direction for the fishermen. Two members of the Kelliher Fire Department were able to walk out onto solid ice, assist the fishermen with their equipment across a crack in the ice and lead them to safety.
According to the Beltrami County Sheriff's Dept., no one was injured and the fishermen were returned to their vehicles at a location approximately three miles from where the incident started.
Assisting with this effort were the Blackduck Ambulance, Kelliher Fire and Rescue, Kelliher First Responders, Bemidji Fire Department and the Beltrami County Sheriff's deputies along with West Wind Resort and Roger's Campground.
The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office reminds ice fisherman that the winds Upper Red Lake has experienced recently can cause a dangerous situation with ice in a matter of minutes. Do not venture onto the ice unless you check with the local resort owners and others who live in the area. They have the best up to date information on the current safe status of the lake. Use caution and do not put yourself in danger.