Fulton County

Rescue crews respond to six incidents on Great Sacandaga Lake Saturday – ‘Unheard of for us’

FILE - The frozen Great Sacandaga Lake in January

FILE - The frozen Great Sacandaga Lake in January

Rescue crews on Saturday responded to six incidents where individuals broke through the ice on Great Sacandaga Lake, Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino said. 

The incidents took place throughout the day across the 29-mile long lake, including an after dark rescue where two individuals were rescued from a floating piece of ice, Giardino said. None of the incidents resulted in injury, though one person was transported to a local hospital to warm up.

“We had a couple of side by sides go in, a couple of snowmobiles go in,” he said. “There were several ice and water rescues throughout the day.”

Unseasonably warm temperatures earlier in the week led to thin ice in some spots and a number of ice ridges across the lake. A snow squall coupled with wind gusts of up to 50 mph made it difficult to spot any holes and identify thin areas, Giardino said.

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The first incident took place around 7:10 a.m. and the last rescue involving two individuals stuck on a floating piece of ice occurred around 9 p.m., according to Giardino.

He added that six rescues on the lake in a single day is a lot and that he was aware of a few other incidents where people were able to pull themselves out of the water.

“That’s unheard of for us,” Giardino said.

A busier than normal day on the lake contributed to the uptick in rescues, according to the sheriff.

The 13th Annual Walleye Ice Fishing Derby took place, bringing between 4,000 and 5,000 individuals onto the ice. The event was canceled last year due to the pandemic.

County officials tried to warn visitors of the potential dangers a day before the event took place.

A message posted the day before the tournament on the Fulton County Emergency Management/Fire Coordinators Office Facebook page asked individuals to use “extreme precaution,” noting multiple spots of open water had been spotted.

 “A large pressure ridge with open water has opened up from just north of Lanzis all the way to the northeast of deer island,” the post reads. “Multiple spots of open water all along the pressure ridge. Please use extreme caution if you are on the lake.”

Giardino said most of the incidents involved one person, though two involved two people. The one person transported to the hospital to warm up is said to be doing better.

“Fortunately no one was hurt, but everyone did get wet,” he said.

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.  

More: Gazette coverage from Fulton and Montgomery counties

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