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Teen dies after ice fishing accident

December 23, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Peoria Journal-Star

GLASFORD —A boy who was revived after 90 minutes submerged in frigid Banner Marsh lake water Tuesday died early Wednesday and was being remembered by family later in the day for his quiet demeanor.

Michael Hallor, 15, of 257 S. Ninth St. in Canton was pronounced dead at 8:10 a.m. Wednesday at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center - more than 12 hours after arriving at the hospital in a helicopter from the state park that straddles the Peoria County and Fulton County line near the Illinois River.

“He was a very quiet person, a good kid,” Maxine Welker, the grandmother of the Canton High School freshman, said Wednesday from the family home in Canton.

School let out an hour early Tuesday to mark the beginning of Christmas break, and the boy and his father, 43-year-old Frank Hallor, headed to the east point access area of Banner Marsh State Fish and Wildlife Area for some ice fishing.

The father and son had finished fishing and were walking back toward their vehicle near an entrance just off U.S. Route 24 in the Peoria County portion of the park when the ice beneath the elder Hallor gave way. The father was pulling himself to safety when the boy crashed through the ice.

Several other fishermen in the area rushed to help the pair, and Frank Hallor eventually helped his son out of the water. The father was instructing him to crawl toward the shore when the ice broke again, and the boy sank out of sight.

Initial reports indicated the water was about 15 feet deep, but site Superintendent Bill Douglass said Wednesday that water was probably about 9 feet deep. He estimated the depth on the other end of the lake to be 18 feet. The thickness of the ice also was variable.

“Near shore, it was 3 or 4 inches, but out where they were fishing, it was only an inch thick,” Douglass said. “That deep water takes a long time to freeze.”

While ice fishing early in the season is not unusual at the site, Douglass said it only has been possible this cycle for about the last week. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources generally does not regulate ice fishermen at the park, and Douglass said many fisherman do not carry ice claws or flotation devices.

“Most guys don’t respect the ice and what’s underneath,” he said. “Banner, being strip mine lakes, might be 3 feet (deep), or it might be 53 feet.”

Douglass also said there is no way to know how many times a season someone breaks through the ice. Few such incidents require an emergency response like the one Tuesday.

“If there’s no injuries or anything, we’re not going to know about it,” he said.

An emergency call for the Hallors was placed at 3:50 p.m. Tuesday. Frank Hallor was rushed to St. Francis by ambulance, but divers didn’t find Michael Hallor until about 5:30 p.m., when he was flown by Life Flight from the scene. He arrived at the hospital about 6 p.m., and doctors worked to slowly warm his body and bring him back to life.

Despite the amount of time he spent underwater, the boy could have, at least in theory, survived the ordeal because of the effect of the cold water on the body, according to Dr. William Tillis, director of critical care services and a pulmonologist at St. Francis.

“Basically, drowning is caused by lack of oxygen getting into the system . . . and ultimately shutting down brain function,” Tillis said. “The way that hypothermia helps is it actually decreases swelling of the brain.”

Matt Buedel can be reached at 686-3154 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Tragic ending to a father and son outing.
I usually just take a five gallon bucket to sit on while ice fishing. I put the flotation device (a boat cushion)from my boat that has a rope tied to it, the DNR has made mandatory, in the bucket and I sit on it.
Most people are heavily clothed and very few can pull themselves back up onto the ice. Hypothermia sets in quickly making it even more unlikely. Some who spend time on ice carry a sharp punch to stab into the ice to pull your self back up onto the ice.

My prayers go out to the family especially at this Christmas season.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/24 at 09:33 AM

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