Ice fishermen rescued from lake (update)

SARANAC LAKE – Emergency crews rescued four men from the ice on Upper Saranac Lake Wednesday afternoon.

Leo Fisher, 46, and Robert Duntley, 74, both of Saranac Lake, were ice fishing in the lake’s Green Bay when they went through the ice. Seeing that the men were in trouble, James Yoder, 50, and Aaron Hyatt, 33, came to their aid, according to Dave Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

When one of the ice fishermen went under the water, Hyatt jumped in and pulled him out.

Saranac Lake Fire Chief Brendan Keough believes the two ice fishermen spent a significant amount of time in the water before the other men pulled them out. All four were on top of the ice when rescuers arrived to help them ashore.

“I don’t have their whole story,” Keough said. “They had a rope tied to a tree, and they used that rope somehow to self-rescue and help the other guys get up on the ice shelf.”

He estimated the men were about 50 to 75 yards from the lake’s western shoreline near Moss Rock Road.

The fire department received a call reporting the men through the ice at 1:55 p.m.

Keough said the rescuers wore special suits that keep them warm and buoyant in the water. The fire department also used a hovercraft to shuttle supplies and people to the men.

After getting helped off the ice by the rescuers, Fisher, Duntley and Hayett were placed in hypothermic bags and taken to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, where all three were treated and released.

Sixteen members of the Saranac Lake Fire Department responded. The state police, DEC forest rangers and Tupper Lake dive team also responded.

Ice has been melting and breaking up for weeks in the Adirondacks. It generally isn’t considered safe to go on the ice now.

“It was ice, but the ice was very soft,” Keough said.