Man Drowns During Attempt to Check Lake Ice Thickness

( – A man drowned in Maine when he walked across ice to test its thickness. Walter Demmons from Milford crashed through the ice in Quakish Lake when he and a friend tested it to see if it was suitable for ice fishing. The two friends fell into the freezing water, and Demmons told his companion he could not get out before disappearing under the ice. The friend managed to escape to call 911, and the Brownville Fire Department recovered Mr. Demmons’s body around an hour later.

The tragedy happened around 75 yards from the shore of the lake in the T3 Indian Township Purchase near Millinocket in the Pine Tree State on December 8. Local game wardens said the time of year is particularly treacherous and warned fishermen to be especially vigilant. Mr. Demmons was 62-years-old.

In 2022, researchers from York University in Canada said around 4,000 people globally fell through ice to their deaths over the preceding 26 years. The figure accounts for fatalities in Canada, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Latvia, Finland, and the United States. Around half of those involved teenagers or children, and they account for between 15% and 25% of drownings worldwide every year.

Meanwhile, more than a million Americans are injured annually as a result of falling on ice or snow. A study published by the National Library of Medicine in 2020 stated that “Winter drownings are particularly hazardous” because a rapid immersion into cold water causes “incapacitation” that can quickly lead to “unconsciousness, cardiac arrhythmia, and death.”

The report described how people who fall through ice experience a shock response that makes breathing difficult, which can “cause drowning very quickly.” The researchers also believe that through-ice drownings will increase as global temperatures rise, and people are more vulnerable toward the end of winter when warmer weather softens the surface of the ice. “The potential for increased winter drownings is a previously unrecognized consequence of warmer winters,” the report states.

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