Green Bay, Wisconsin rescue: 34 rescued after ice separates from main shore

Brown County, Wisconsin Sheriff's Office rescued dozens over about 90 minutes
SCOTT, Wis. -- Dozens of people had to be rescued in Wisconsin Saturday after being stranded on a large chunk of floating ice.

It's not what Shane Nelson and Robert Verhagen expected.

"Didn't catch any fish, ran out of propane early and got stranded on the ice," Nelson told WLUK.

It was their first time ice fishing.

"It sounded like, almost, somebody fired a gun out there," he said. "We thought it was interesting, got out of our shanty, took a look and people yelling on the ice were separating."

Late Saturday morning, a piece of ice separated from the main shore line on Green bay-- taking their gear with it.

RELATED: Dramatic video shows 2 children rescued from frozen Wis. river

The Brown County Sheriff's Office first reported 27 people on the ice floe -- then upped that number to 34 a few hours later.

"I heard reports that the ice had drifted out approximately 2,000 feet from where they originally were, so our ice boat operators indicated that the ice has moved farther each trip that they went back for a rescue," said Lt. John Bain, with the sheriff's office.

Bain believes the ice fishermen were on the separated ice shove for an hour and a half, adding the rescue took multiple trips.

It's not clear what might have caused the ice to break up.

"A barge may have come through, and that may have disrupted the ice," Bain said. "The disruption of the ice along with natural occurring conditions may have led to that. ... The current and the winds, things can change fast, and you're not always aware that they are changing."

The bay isn't completely frozen over.

It's why Bain said it's important to be aware of conditions, and have your cell phone on.

"Thankfully we got our gear back," Nelson said.