PEOA, Summit County — Four men were able to swim back to shore Saturday afternoon after falling through thin ice at Rockport Reservoir while ice fishing.
All four men were treated by medical personnel at the scene and released.
Rockport State Park manager Joe Donnell said such accidents are increasingly common as the weather grows warmer.
The reservoir is covered by a sheet of ice that does not reach the water's edges. However, the morning wind pushes the ice sheet up against the shore, he said. The ice sheet later shifts back to the middle of the lake, leaving anyone on it stranded.
“When there’s open water all around the edges of the reservoir, it's like you're on an iceberg," Donnell said. "As soon as the wind shifts, it just blows that sheet of ice around, and all of a sudden you’ve got 30 feet of open water between you and the shore."
The men fell through the ice while trying to get back to shore, he said.
Donnell advised all other prospective fisherman to stay off of Rockport's ice.
"I’d say we’re going to be open water and ice-free within a couple of days or a week, which is just unheard of in mid-February," he said. "Ice fishing season is over."
— Allison Oligschlaeger