LINCOLN – Eight hunters and a dog were rescued by helicopter from two boats stranded in the rapidly freezing Missouri River just east of Santee on Thursday. There were no injuries.
A Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) helicopter from its Aviation Support Division in Lincoln pulled the hunters from the boats two at a time by mid-afternoon. There were four hunters in each boat.
The boats had been blocked by ice in the river, and attempts by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission officers to reach them were prevented by the ice.
The rescued men were: Leigh Winterboer, Spencer, Iowa; Bill Lang, Huntington Beach, Calif.; Eric Scranton, Norfolk; Mitch Scranton, Norfolk; Brad Rasmussen, Spencer, Iowa; Colby Kerber, Broken Bow; Matthew Cronk, Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Ben Micek, Omaha.
South Dakota Game Fish and Parks had received a call for help at 11:30 a.m. Three Nebraska Game and Parks officers, NSP Troop B officers in Norfolk, the Santee Police Department and Bloomfield Fire and Rescue responded.
The hunters said no ice was on the river when they put their boats in at 5:30 or 6 a.m. Thursday. The 18-foot flat-bottom boats were left in the river following the rescue.
Tom Zimmer, Game and Parks law enforcement supervisor for northeast Nebraska, said sportsmen must take precautions outdoors in changing conditions.
“In cold weather conditions, be aware of your surroundings,” he said. “The river can ice up very quickly.”