OPP urge people to stay off the ice following the deaths of three snowmobilers

Police say the persons literally drove into open water

The messaging could not be any louder and clearer.

The Ontario Provincial Police is urging anyone thinking of venturing out onto the ice to think again. This follows the deaths of three snowmobilers in two incidents near Midland on Sunday.

Police say 40-year-old William Fournier of Midland drove into open water while travelling on ice on Georgian Bay. He was pulled to safety by Penetanguishene firefighters and transported to Georgian Bay General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Also on Sunday, residents in the area of Sturgeon Bay heard cries for help and contacted authorities. First responders searched the water for several hours, but they were unable to find anyone. The bodies of two snowmobilers were pulled from the frigid water on Monday. They have been identified as 49-year-old Jereld Bremner and 19-year-old Donald Bremner, both from Coldwater.

The deaths happened during Snowmobile Safety Week.

“Tragically, these are preventable incidents,” said Southern Georgian Bay OPP Constable David Hobson. “In both cases, the persons literally drove into open water.”

Hobson was given an aerial view of the waterways in the detachment’s coverage area on Tuesday and said the conditions are extremely dangerous.

Picture provided: Southern Georgian Bay OPPBeausoleil Island entrance to Penetang Bay

“On the greater waters like Midland Bay and over towards Victoria Harbour and Waubaushene, there is vast areas of pure open water. There is no ice cover at all.”

Even on the smaller lakes, Hobson said the traditional weak spots are open.

“We just haven’t had the cold weather to support good ice formation, anywhere.”