Officials warn Lakeshore visitors of ice cave dangers

Posted at 9:40 PM, Mar 02, 2015

MUSKEGON, Mich. --  With images of ice caves on the Lakeshore hitting the Internet, people have been flocking to Lake Michigan to explore them -- but law enforcement and city officials say those ice caves are extremely dangerous, with uneven ice and risk of the ice collapsing.

"That just scares me," said Muskegon County Sgt. Todd Dunham. "None of this ice is the same as an inland lake or Muskegon Lake. It’s not safe ice at all."

"There were some spots that were black ice, and you can see, and there were definitely some cracks in the cave, too, that look kinda scary," cave explorer Erilyn Corliss said Monday.

Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke says if you get sucked into the slush, it's like quicksand.

Authorities in Grand Haven say they rescued seven people from the ice last winter -- and two people in Muskegon had to be rescued after getting stuck in the ice formations.

"There was a small girl up top, and we were under,"  explorer Sherri Rogers said, "and I definitely took a couple steps back and pulled my kids back, because it is a little scary when you see them and it's cracking -- lot of large cracks all over. But you don't know if they've been there for a while, but it is a little scary."

Still, the danger is not keeping visitors away, and that inspired the City of Grand Haven to take a look at permanent measures to keep people safe.

"We're talking about possibly posting some signs to make sure the public is aware of the hazard," City Manager Pat McGinnis says. "It's selfish to go out there and just assume somebody's going to come and rescue you if something bad should happen to you -- and you are putting others at risk as well as yourself."