Sunday, March 19, 2017

Two Bear Air Rescue: Helicopter rescues fishermen stranded in ice jam on Clark Canyon Reservoir

BUTTE — Mother Nature had a surprise for two college students who wanted to spend a sunny St. Patrick’s Day leisure fishing at Clark Canyon Reservoir south of Dillon.

Two large pieces of ice jammed a row boat carrying two casually dressed University of Montana-Western students unable to paddle to shore against heavy winds on Friday.

A helicopter from Two Bear Air of Kalispell eventually rescued the two after Beaverhead Search and Rescue had trouble reaching them with a rescue sled due to poor ice conditions, said Beaverhead County Undersheriff David Chase.

“We took two boats out there, but because they were locked in this ice ring, we couldn’t get to them,” said Chase. “The warm weather made the ice too inconsistent a formation to get the sled out there, and we couldn’t carry or push it. On solid ice, though, it works great.”

The unnamed male students, ages 22 and 23, started fishing from the boat close to shore, but soon winds blew them out into the lake. The boat anchor broke, then the two oar locks that guide the paddles broke, he said.

“The weather was nice when they started, but then the wind picked up,” Chase said. “They couldn’t get enough momentum without the oar locks to carry them to shore.

“The wind blew them up against a solid piece of ice, and they couldn’t row away from it. Then a second piece of ice locked them in.”

Wearing sweatshirts and non-fishing clothing, the two were stuck until search and rescue got the call at 5 p.m.

It was a long wait, though, for the two fishermen.

Strong headwinds hampered the Two Bear Air rescue helicopter as it flew to the site then as it attempted rescue.

By 10:30 p.m. Friday, both fishermen were safe and sound when Two Air Bear set them down in a nearby landing zone. They refused medical treatment and suffered no injuries, confirmed Chase.

“It took two trips out to the lake … to rescue both of the guys in the boat,” said Chase. “The boat is still out there, locked in the ice.”

Original article can be found here:

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