Ice fisherman drowns in Geneva Lake

Posted at 10:56 AM, Jan 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-25 20:07:49-05

A fishing trip ends in tragedy at Lake Geneva. 60-year-old Michael Zielinski of the Linn Township drowned after falling through the ice Tuesday morning. Linn Police Captain James Bushey said the wife of Zielinski came to the boat ramp where the fisherman entered in a frantic search.

"She had started calling around 7:00 a.m. and it was going right to voicemail," said Bushey.

The woman said she hadn't heard from her husband in hours while he was out on the lake.
“That’s when she got concerned and called us and asked if we could come down and assist,” said Bushey. "The condition on the lake across the lake (was) spotty. You have a lot of floating chunks of ice."
Fire and police crews arrived within minutes to find a break in the ice several hundred yards out. 
"From a ground level view, you're only going to be able to see so much," Bushey said.
Bushey decided to put the police department’s drone in the air.
"As soon as we put this up, within the first four minutes we had located a heat signature in the water."
At that point, it was too late. Video from the drone showed the victim had already drowned, turning police and fire efforts into a recovery.
Despite the tragic ending, Bushey points out their method potentially saved hours of searching while a family was waiting for answers.
"It's been a huge asset to us, I mean even in the two calls we've used so far," he said.
Their $7,000 drone was purchased by the department just a few months ago. It has already been used for two searches.
"We can have it up in a matter of minutes and hopefully save a life with it," said Bushey.
To do just that, the Linn Police Department is in the process of purchasing gadgets to be able to release life-saving gear from the drone. Bushey said they should have it within a few months.

Be sure and try our new SNOWCAST APP! It is the "snow equivalent to STORM SHIELD" - a great new product that gives you high resolution snow forecasts for any part of the nation! It has just been introduced for iPhones, but we are working on the Android version! Just search SNOWCAST in the App Store or click here.