Local heroes use air boats to save ice fishermen on thin ice

Local heroes use their own air boats to save ice fisherman Wednesday night. (Photo credit: Jesse Gonzales)

Many ice fishermen are finding themselves on thin ice, as a result of this recent warm up.

In fact, Wednesday night four ice fishermen were rescued in Bay County alone.

A number of local heroes with air boats assisted first responders with the saves.

These "heroes" call themselves a group of average, hardworking guys who would do anything for anyone.

They proved just that Wednesday evening.

Mark Pieniozek and Adam Schumacher are two of these good Samaritans.

They said every time they get a call from the Kawkawlin Fire Department, they're ready to go and help save the lives of their fellow fishermen.

"We're gonna save them because it could be one of us one day," Pieniozek said.

It actually has been already.

Pieniozek said why he originally bought this air boat goes back to when he had a scare of his own.

"I actually hit the water, took off my helmet and threw it toward the lights," he said. "I swam to what I thought was good ice, grabbed my picks, tried to pull myself up and actually got up before my guys were able to help me."

He said he was prepared, but he knew not everyone would be.

"When I went in, I decided I was going to purchase something that I wouldn't have to worry if I went in the water again," he said.

Along came the air boat, Pieniozek said, and others along the bay who had boats of their own.

"The other guys Tommy and Ron and Brandon who have these air boats too," he said. "These things are made for the ice."

Together, these guys ice fish and save lives.

"We're just a group of guys," Schumacher said. "Just a bunch of good, hardworking, normal guys that just happen to have the equipment to do the things that we do."

His partner added, "I don't feel that we're heroes. If someone else had these resources, had the air boats and had the resources to do it, I think they'd do the same thing. I think it's human nature to want to reach out and help people."

These local heroes wanted to make it clear they weren't the only heroes out there.

The Bay County Sheriff's Department, Kawkalin Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard were also out there Wednesday helping with the rescues.

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