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January 20, 2008

Local man gets a big scare ice fishing

ROUSES POINT -- When Paul Harrison headed onto Lake Champlain with his fishing buddies Friday morning, he was hoping to get a big catch.

Instead, after a big scare and now with a story of a lifetime, it was Harrison himself that was reeled in.

After spending awhile fishing at Kelly Bay, the Plattsburgh man decided to venture over to the breakwater in Rouses Point and try his luck there.

Once at the popular fishing spot, Harrison said he stepped onto the ice, dusted off the snow and drilled a hole to check its thickness.

Bundled warmly, with his fishing gear in hand, Harrison decided to shuffle out a little farther.

As he hunched over once again, pressing his drill into the ice, he didn't realize the danger nearby.

Seconds later, as the wind and current moved with steady force, a huge patch of ice broke away from the shoreline, trapping Harrison as it began to slowly float toward Vermont.

"It was too late to turn and jump," he said Saturday afternoon as he recalled the dangerous adventure the day before.

Luckily, he says, he had his cell phone with him and called 911 as the high winds and white-capped water began to break more and more pieces off the sheet of ice.

Emergency dispatchers told him to lie flat, help was on its way.

Nearby, Dave Natishak, an avid fisherman who dropped his line at almost the same spot as Harrison the day before, was at home when he heard someone was stranded on the ice.

With a camera in hand, the Rouses Point man headed outdoors and spotted Harrison floating away in the open water.

"I was surprised it happened there because I was just out at that spot and the ice was at least six inches thick," he said Saturday.

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