His cousin couldn't pull him from the frigid water, but a stranger with a rope appeared.
- Posted on Dec 20, 2013
I met my cousin Eric out on Bald Eagle Lake for what we expected to be an uneventful day of ice fishing.
The weather was cloudy and mild for early December, somewhere between mid to upper 30s, and while there were a few other fishermen out on the lake, they were a good 200 yards away. All signs seemed to point to a peaceful day ahead.
Still, we were careful as we set up our gear. The ice had buckled in on itself while we were out the previous weekend, causing an overflow of water to spill across the surface.
The flow started near the shore and worked its way out across the lake. I had to move one of my tip-ups, as it was in the path of the oncoming water.
Throughout the week it looked like everything had frozen solid once again. Windblown snow had crusted over where the water had been, making the precarious places on the ice obvious to anyone who looked.
I decided to test the ice myself. Eric and I were both experienced fishermen, but safety was not something either of us took lightly.
I set out across a spot where there had been water the week before. Suddenly, I began to sink as the crusted snow beneath my feet dropped away. I plunged chest-deep into freezing water. I struggled to get back onto the ice, but I could not get my leg on the side of the hole to kick myself out.
“Grab this!” Eric held out an ice pick, getting as close as he dared, but it wasn’t close enough. I was able to grasp the pick, but to pull me out Eric would need to come closer. A few more steps and he’d slip into the water with me.
I let go of the pick and turned again to see if I could get my foot on the side of the hole. No luck. Icy water saturated my insulated clothes. I couldn’t see a way out.
Turning back to Eric I saw a man approaching from behind. “I’ve got a rope,” he said. He tossed the end to me. I grasped it like a lifeline, and the two of them pulled me out of the hole. Relief washed over me.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the stranger with his rope, walking off in the same direction he had come from. I was too busy counting my blessings to chase after him. Eric and I called it a day, and before we packed up I looked for the man in the distance, but he was gone.
The next day, Eric met me out on the lake again. We chose our fishing spot. There was no way I’d let a small accident scare me away from ice fishing for good, but I knew I was lucky that stranger had shown up.
I could see the hole where I’d fallen in the day before. Eric glanced over at it too. “You know,” Eric said as we settled in, “I never saw that guy’s face.”
“I didn’t either,” I said. Now that I thought about it, the whole rescue seemed impossible. We’d seen how far away the other fishermen were. It would have taken a miracle for one of them to have gotten to us with that rope in time to help me.
The stranger seemed to come out of nowhere and to disappear when his job was done. That’s why I believe God sent me an angel. A miracle on ice.
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