OCONTO COUNTY -- We've heard it many times this winter: it's not cold enough for a long enough period of time for people to safely venture out on the ice, but it's happening. Monday, eight people, including a three-year-old child had to be rescued from the ice in Green Bay. Now, some are questioning whether those rescued will be billed.
It took nearly three hours to get the eight people off the ice Monday. Oconto County called in Brown County's airboat to haul people back to shore. The agencies say they don't know yet what the receipt will be for the rescue, but it didn't take long for some people to raise questions about who should pay for it. Some say those who have to be rescued should pay the costs of the rescue, and say maybe it will make people think twice before venturing onto the ice when conditions are not safe. Others say saving those in need is the job of emergency services.
Oconto County Sheriff Michael Jansen says in his nine years as sheriff, he's never charged anybody for the job that the department has to do. "As of right now, I have no indication of doing that, as I sit here today. If the wind would have been from the east instead of the west (Monday), the crack would never have opened up, and we would not have been there," Jansen said.
Jansen says if people knowingly disregard their safety, they could end up footing the bill. "If there's a situation where everybody knows something is unsafe, and then you have people going out, then a person might look at (being charged)," Jansen said.
Another concern raised after Monday's incident was for the safety of the three-year-old involved. "For a father to take his child out and do fishing or hunting or anything in the outdoors, I don't deem Monday was that dangerous," Jansen said.
The Oconoto County Sheriff's Department expects a bill from Brown County before March 1st.