GREAT BARRINGTON — A fisherman and two Good Samaritans were rescued from the frigid waters of Lake Mansfield on Sunday after falling through the ice, authorities said.
Peter Consolati, of Egremont, was fishing about around noon when the ice gave way, according to a news release prepared by Great Barrington Fire Chief Charles Burger.
Responding to numerous 911 calls, town Police Officer Samuel Stolzar arrived moments later and saw two people on the ice dragging a canoe toward Consolati.
Seconds later, he said, they both fell through the ice.
"My priority was to keep everyone else off the ice so we did not have additional victims," Stolzar said, according to the release.
The Great Barrington Fire Department arrived minutes later and immediately launched an ice rescue operation.
The first victim was off the ice in 7 minutes; the complete operation took 24 minutes.
"It was a challenge but everyone performed well," said Deputy Fire Chief Steve Hall, who coordinated the rescue, the release said. "We had multiple victims about 500 feet out on the lake. That required us to extend ropes and complicated communications."
Also, the would-be rescue canoe was in the way and the ice was in terrible condition, the release said. Rescuers fell through multiple times even when they were distributing all their weight.
Consolati was severely hypothermic and was transported by Southern Berkshire Ambulance to Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington. He was treated and released several hours later.
Robert Avery, of Great Barrington, and Nicholas DeToro, of Oakland, Calif., the bystanders who attempted the rescue, both declined treatment.
Additional manpower and rescue equipment was provided by the Egremont Fire Department.
"Everyone worked well together," said Deputy Fire Chief Edward McCormick, according to the release.
Great Barrington firefighters have been trained through the Massachusetts Fire Academy in technical rescue, including ice water rescue, and run multiple drills each winter.
"I am very proud of the Great Barrington's firefighters and the other agencies which assisted," Burger said in the release. "Thankfully our training paid off and everyone is alive because of it."
Fire officials cautioned people to stay off the ice, which is not safe due to the unusually warm winter.
And they encouraged anyone who sees someone fall through the ice to call 911 and wait for rescue personnel to arrive.