Annual Vermont ice fishing tournament cancelled after three fishermen die

Man ice fishing at sunrise
(Image credit: Getty)

A popular ice fishing tournament has been called off after three fishermen fell through thinning ice and died. The Islands Ice Fishing Derby takes place each year on Lake Champlain, Vermont, but all ice anglers were asked to get off the lake immediately after the three fatalities.

The first accident happened on Thursday February 9, when 62-year-old Wayne Alexander fell through ice while fishing alone. In a report, Vermont State Police explained that a family member went out searching for Alexander when he failed to return home at the scheduled time. 

After finding his truck, the relative contacted emergency crews, who found Alexander in the water at around 9:30pm. He was wearing a flotation suit, but sadly passed away.

As USA Today reports, the other two fatalities occurred on the morning of Saturday February 18, when an SUV fell through the lake ice. One of the occupants, 71-year-old John Fleury, was pulled from the water soon afterwards, but was pronounced dead at hospital. His brother, 88-year-old Wayne Fleury, was found later by a rescue diver and pronounced dead at the scene.

It's not clear whether any of the men were taking part in the tournament, but the local Sheriff's Department asked for it to be called off immediately due to the condition of the ice.

As a general rule of thumb, clear ice should be at least three inches thick to support a human foot, but bear in mind that the thickness won't necessarily be consistent across a body of water. Avoid areas where there is a current, such as incoming creeks, culverts, and bottlenecks. For more advice on how to fish safely, see our beginner's guide to ice fishing.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.