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Wisconsin anglers billed for rescue

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News Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
Wisconsin anglers billed for rescue
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The two Wisconsin anglers rescued from ice floes Jan. 22 on Saxon Harbor of Lake Superior were billed nearly $2,000 total for their rescue by the Ashland Fire Department.


Skip Wick, 81, of Hurley and Mike Popko, 61, of Saxon said this week that they each were billed $951.36 for their rescue by a wind-sled craft called an Ice Angel.

"I just paid it this last Monday," Wick said.

Popko also said he paid his bill and considered the fee a good value.

"How much is your life worth?" Popko asked.

The two men were on the ice for about an hour and 45 minutes that day after waves up to 8 feet high broke up the ice they were fishing on. About

50 to 75 other anglers, including Wick's son and grandson, made it to shore before the ice broke up. Most anglers weren't as far out on the ice as Wick and Popko were.

The Ice Angel wind sled, with four firefighters aboard, was operated by the Ashland Fire Department. It is designed to travel over ice as well as water.

Even with the wind sled, the rescue was challenging, Lt. Tom Walters of the Ashland Fire Department told the News Tribune in a Jan. 27 story.

"I've got be honest with you," Walters said. "My whole crew, we were pretty worried. We didn't know that the craft could handle that situation. We had never had it in water like that."

Popko said he was thankful to be rescued.

"There were only two options, as far as I was concerned," he said. "The option I had was the better one. Every day above ground is a good day. But I've been thinking about trying to deduct it on my taxes next year as a disaster."

Pioneer staff reports