Geary Co. officials rescue hunter stranded in icy water for two hours

Crews rescue a hunter who got stranded on Milford Lake on Dec. 22, 2022.
Crews rescue a hunter who got stranded on Milford Lake on Dec. 22, 2022.(Geary Co. Sheriff's Office)
Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 2:38 PM CST
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MILFORD, Kan. (WIBW) - Geary County officials were able to rescue a hunter who got stranded in the icy waters of Milford Lake as he attempted to gather his geese decoys in the midst of a major winter storm.

The Geary Co. Sheriff’s Office said just after 9:40 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22, officials were called to the area of Auld Rd. near Milford Lake for reports of a man stranded on the water in a disabled boat.

Officials said Justin Howe, of Ft. Riley, called dispatch when the motor on the boat he was using to retrieve geese decoys suddenly died. The boat drifted further from where Howe had been hunting and he became stranded against the ice before the boat became frozen in place.

Howe told dispatch he had been in the boat and on the water for about 40 minutes.

Around 10:20 a.m., crews said they were able to locate Howe and his boat from the shore and the Marine Unit responded to the City of Milford Boat ramp after the ice at the ramp was broken. Just before 11:10 a,m, crews were able to launch an attempt to reach Howe.

Once in the water, officials said they encountered dense fog, which made the rescue effort difficult. The crew’s boat began to experience mechanical issues of its own.

Just when officials said they were faced with the decision to return to the boat ramp and seek an alternative rescue plan, the fog cleared and they saw Howe about 100 yards from their location.

Crews were able to make their way through the ice around Howe’s boat and first attempted to tow the boat back to shore, however, they were unable to break ice from around the boat in order to get close enough for Howe to get on board.

Once Howe was able to board the rescue vessel, officials said they made their way back to the City of Milford boat ramp.

Finally, around 11:55 a.m., after more than two hours on the water, Howe was returned to shore where he was checked out by Junction City Fire Department EMTs and was released.