A woman was rescued after falling through the ice on Mara Lake.
At around 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 23, Sicamous RCMP got a 911 call from the woman saying she had fallen through the ice after walking on the lake. She was able to give details as to her location and said she was in deep water and unable to climb out, an RCMP media release explained.
Two Sicamous RCMP officers responded, as did the Swansea Point and Sicamous fire departments and BC Ambulance. First to arrive was a police officer who saw the woman about 15 meters from the shore in the water, holding on to the edge of a hole in the ice.
Moving out towards her with a rope to try and pull her out, the officer attempted to reach her but also fell into the water through the thin ice.
A second police officer got out to the pair by crawling along a fire department ladder but he also fell through the ice, as it was too thin to support his weight.
Sicamous Fire Department members who had recently completed ice-rescue training were able to use ladders and ropes to safely get the woman and the two officers out of the water.
The woman was transported to Vernon Jubilee Hospital and treated for hypothermia. She was released on Jan. 26 after undergoing testing and staying in hospital under observation. Police said it is believed the woman was in the cold water for over half an hour.
One of the officers was transported to Shuswap Lake General Hospital in Salmon Arm but was evaluated and released with no injuries.
Sicamous Sgt. Murray McNeil said the quick response of all first responders and the ice rescue training by the Sicamous Fire Department led to the success of the potentially life-threatening situation.
Swansea Point Fire Department Chief Steve Norton issued a public safety warning along with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and the Swansea Point Community Association following the rescue.
Expressing concerns about people being out on the ice on Mara Lake, Norton said there is no such thing as 100 per cent safe ice. Users should look for clear blue to black coloured ice as the strongest and likely thickest, and said users should only skate on ice that is eight inches thick or more. Avoid white opaque ice, and grey ice means there is water underneath and the ice is unsafe to stand on.
Weak ice will be in the centre of the water and along the edges, and people should avoid walking on streams or flowing water sources. Avoid ice that has recently thawed and frozen again and pay attention to fluctuating weather conditions.