UPDATED: Luck, makeshift apparatus save man after ATV sinks in icy Warren pond

Mon, 01/24/2022 - 12:30pm

    WARREN — A Warren man’s core body temperature dropped fast following a frigid few moments in the ice cold water of South Pond, Saturday afternoon, January 22, 2022. However, after warming back up inside a Warren ambulance, the man determined himself fit enough to decline a ride to the hospital.

    According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, Roger Steele, age 40, of Warren, was operating an all terrain vehicle on South Pond in Warren. He was traveling on the pond when he came to a very large pressure ridge. A pressure ridge is a ridge produced on floating ice when sideways pressure from wind or ice causes the ice to buckle or crush.

    Steele tried to stop, but his ATV tires were not studded or chained, which may have prevented him from entering the pressure ridge and going into the water. Steele was unable to get out of the water himself, prompting a group of people skating nearby to initiate a 911 response while simultaneously sending rope to Steele and pulling him out.Warren Fire and Rescue, Warren EMS, along with Knox County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene to assist as well.

    According to the Warden Service, Steele said where he had been fishing there was 10’’ of ice.

    “The Maine Warden Service continues to remind recreators of varying ice conditions, and that even with the very cold temperatures, ice thickness can vary due to water current and natural spring holes,” said the Service.


    WARREN — The driver of an all-terrain vehicle is lucky to be alive after being spotted by a group of families ice skating in front of a camp in Warren, Saturday afternoon.

    According to one witness, a youth in the party of approximately 10 skaters on South Pond happened to look off into the distance, approximately 600 yards downstream and toward the middle of the pond. There had been no sound to warn them that a man was there, clinging to the surface. They would not know, until they were closer, that a vehicle drifted underneath.

    Just after 4 p.m., January 22, 2022, as some Warren Fire and Ambulance members raced to the station to get equipment, other fire personnel responded directly to the skaters’ camp on South Shore Drive, calling for Waldoboro Fire Department while en route to bring its water rescue supplies. Deputies from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office also responded as first-on-scene assistance before the local warden could arrive.

    According to the witness, the skaters acted quickly, getting as close to the open water as they safely could, then sending forth a box tied to a rope. When that didn’t reach, they attached to the box a 6-foot pole, also tied with a rope. They pushed the entire makeshift apparatus toward the man. The man in the water was wearing ice cleats at the time. His presence of mind told him to remove those cleats. As he clung to the rope now being pulled by the skaters, he used a cleat as a claw to help drag himself out.

    Between the 4:02 p.m. summons by Knox Regional Communications to rescuers, and the announcement that the man was out of the water, 9 minutes had passed. However, as one firefighter said, nine minutes in winter water, with an air temperature of 20 degrees probably felt like a thousand minutes to the man.

    Warren Ambulance tended to the man in the ambulance at the camp site. The man declined to go to the hospital.


    Reach Sarah Thompson at news@penbaypilot.com