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Ice fisherman reportedly drowns in Harrison Twp. canal near Lake St. Clair

By: Nick Mordowanec | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published February 24, 2020

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — The cause of death of a 27-year-old man who reportedly drowned in a canal near Lake St. Clair is still being determined.

The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office stated that on Feb. 23, two men were ice fishing off San Juan Street, near North River Road, in Harrison Township. One of the fishermen reportedly lost his cellphone in the water and entered the water to retrieve it. His body was located deceased hours later.

Harrison Township Fire Department Battalion Chief Andy Houde said his department got the call at about 7:30 a.m., regarding a man who had taken off his clothes and went into the water. The two men were ice fishing in a canal.

“We sent all our on-duty personnel out there and found a 2-by-3-foot hole he had gone in,” Houde said.

Personnel put on exposure suits and jumped into the hole. They employed an underwater camera and also used poles to sweep the bottom of the canal.

They searched for about 90 minutes, expanding the search area to about a 10-by-10-foot opening, Houde said. The depth was about 8 to 10 feet where the man reportedly went missing.

The man’s friend, who was the only witness on-site and called 911 immediately, told authorities that the victim had used an unspecified tool to cut the hole in the ice.

“(The friend) absolutely tried talking (the victim) out of it,” Houde said. “Apparently, the victim disagreed with his friend and went in anyways.”

The man’s body was ultimately recovered by the Sheriff’s Office, which used an underwater vehicle as well as divers.

Houde said that even with warmer weekend temperatures, the canal was “pretty well protected” and covered in 6 to 8 inches of ice. There were no signs of weak ice.

He cautioned those who risk their lives for personal equipment or accessories: Call authorities if you need help locating items underwater.

“There’s got to be better ways to recover a cellphone than to dive down to get it,” Houde said.

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