North

Whitehorse man warns others after falling through ice

The ice may look solid, but emergency officials are warning Yukoners to be wary. M.A. Chartrand learned that the hard way last week.

M.A. Chartrand was playing hockey at Fish Lake, until he was swimming

M.A. Chartrand was out enjoying a skate on Fish Lake near Whitehorse last week when suddenly he skated right into open water. He eventually was able to pull himself to safety. (George Maratos/CBC)

M.A. Chartrand won't soon forget this past Halloween.

The Whitehorse man was out enjoying an evening skate and playing some hockey at nearby Fish Lake when he suddenly skated right into open water.

"Initially, the puck just went straight through the ice and I'm like, 'oh that's bad' — and the next thing you know, I'm in the water," said Chartrand, 26.

"You couldn't tell it was a puddle or a hole or hadn't frozen, because it was just like a mirror, everything looked like ice."

Chartrand says there were about 20 other people skating nearby, including a close friend.

I'm guessing I was in there for 25 to 30 seconds.- M.A. Chartrand

"She was maybe like, five feet behind me," said Chartrand. "As soon as I fell, she laid down on her stomach and gave me her hockey stick so I could maybe pull myself out."

It didn't work. Instead, Chartrand was pulling her closer to the open water.

But eventually, Chartrand was able to pull himself out to safety.

"I kind of did a chin-up to get out," he recalled. "I'm guessing I was in there for 25 or 30 seconds."

Don't be fooled 

Chartrand's scary experience happened as many Yukoners have been venturing out to frozen lakes in and around Whitehorse.

Photos and videos of people skiing, skating and playing hockey have been showing up on social media.

But Barry Blisner of the Whitehorse Fire Department says don't be fooled — it's a bad idea to trust the ice at this time of year.

"It looks OK and all that, and there's certainly some ice forming, but I would say the beginning of December for getting out there and doing any kind of recreational activity," said Blisner.

The ice may look fine, but Yukoners are advised to be wary at this time of year. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

"The one thing we always recommend before anything else is, don't go out alone."

After Chartrand's incident, he took to social media to share what happened. He says he wants others know of the conditions and what can happen.

"I don't regret going," said Chartrand. "I got lucky and still had fun — next time I'll probably wait a few weeks longer."

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