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Deputies warn 'looks can be deceiving' on frozen lakes, ponds
WEST MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It's been a harsh winter across West Michigan, and while frozen lakes and ponds may look safe to walk on, looks can be deceiving.
Thursday night, Ottawa County deputies have a warning for people who are tempted to venture out on the ice.
People come out in droves not just to look, but to experience the ice.
In 15 years with Ottawa County, Sgt. Cal Keuning has never seen anything like it.
"I haven't seen people walking out as far as they are on the ice," he said. "There's people going past the end of the pier, the lighthouse, still walking on the ice."
And that is not a good thing.
"You don't know where the cracks are, or how thick the ice is that you're walking on," Sgt. Keuning explained. "You could be on a ledge [...] you don't know."
That is precisely why Ottawa County, Grand Haven Public Safety and the Coast Guard practice ice rescues.
"People want to come out, and they're going to get themselves into a situation that they may not be able to get themselves out." said Lieutenant Clinton Holt from Grand Haven Public Safety.
Lt. Holt says no one thinks it will happen to them until it does.
"We had a couple of people that were walking along the ice formations--the pack ice--and they crumbled off, fell into the back side of the water," he said.
Injuries are far more common than drownings, but no matter what the emergency, even the fastest response will take some time.
Rescue crews say the danger is only going to increase as we get closer to spring.
The ice build-up will look the same, but wave action will break it up, making cracks, crevices, hidden dangers, and drownings even more likely.