toronto lake ice

Man spotted floating on ice patch in the middle of Toronto Harbour

Of the nearly 300 water-related fatalities in Canada each year, three quarters of all victims are found to have drowned in lakes, rivers or other natural bodies of water—fourteen per cent of them, according to the Lifesaving Society of Canada, while "walking, running or playing" near water or on ice.

Those who've gone viral for skating, playing hockey or performing tricks on frozen Lake Ontario this winter should count themselves lucky not to be part of those statistics.

Those who continue to attempt such wildly dangerous stunts despite warnings from all sorts of emergency responders, well... they might not get a chance to.

The Toronto Harbour is warming up fast as we move into March and away from the dreaded polar vortex.

Evidence of this can be seen simply looking at the lake right now. The ice sheet that's been laying atop the frigid waters since January is breaking up into pieces and drifting on its way.

Pretty? Sure, but it's not the kind of thing you want to be in the middle of. Nobody's really sure why this guy decided otherwise.

"The amount of risk being taken by this individual is extraordinary and this is extremely irresponsible behaviour," said Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg in response to video footage of someone jumping across moving ice floes near Ward's Island on Sunday.

"I am very thankful that this person made it back safely and that [Toronto Fire Services] did not have to put rescuers in the water to conduct a rescue," he continued. "This behaviour must stop."

The witness who shot and posted the video to Instagram says the unidentified man did get out of the water and back onto the island "safe and sound," but it's easy to imagine how poorly the situation could have turned out.

Toronto Police told CityNews that they didn't receive any calls about this particular incident, but that a rescue mission would have been a draw on resources that could potentially endanger the lives of first responders, as well as others in need of assistance. 

"No ice is safe ice and we cannot stress this enough," said Sarah Sutton of PortsToronto last week by email. "Ice in Toronto's harbour is never safe and PortsToronto's Harbour Master's Office advises members of the public to stay away and not go on the ice."

When it's literally floating away, you might just go along with it—or worse (and more likely): You could fall in, get hypothermia and die.

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