Rescuing Skaters Who Fell Through Ice

Patrick D Costa

The Toronto Police Marine Unit helped rescue three people who fell through the ice on Lake Ontario.

At around 8:35 a.m. on February 6, a distress call came into the unit for three people in the water.

Constable Chris Gibson was at the station engaging in dive maintenance work while the active crew were just about to patrol the water.

“Initially, the call was for two people in the water trying to swim to shore,” said Gibson. “The only information we had at this point was they were out by Hanlan’s Point Ferry Dock.”

Though not part of the working crew, he joined Constables Thomas Sommer and Ellie Edwards, who was driving the marine rescue vessel.

“When we got over there, we could see something in the middle of the bay between the islands,” noted Gibson. “However, we could not get the boat further because of ice. Ellie let me and Sommer off at the ferry dock and we ran a couple hundred metres up the pathway to where we saw the people in the water.”

Gibson said they observed a female partially submerged in water screaming for help.

“She was close to land and Toronto Fire was already on scene dealing with her,” he pointed out. “There was another person about 40 metres out in the bay surrounded by broken ice. Me and Sommer went in with our lifejackets and pulled the guy out before he went under. I had taken a ring buoy out with me that was attached to a rope, so I was able to wrap myself around him and we were pulled in.”

“He couldn’t move anymore and was just keeping himself alfloat,” he said of the man, who had been wearing skates.

The water in the area was about 20 feet deep.

A third person, who attempted to save the two people who fallen through the ice, was also taken to shore.

Transported to a local hospital for medical attention, the three people are expected to recover.

Marine Unit Constable Stacy Kellough said people should stay off the ice over bodies of water such as lakes and streams around Toronto.

The melting of snow and ice is causing instability in the ice and increasingly slippery conditions around waterways.

If you are the ice, a life jacket can be worn over winter gear.

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