VSP releases more information on ice rescue, death investigation

VERMONT STATE POLICE

CASE#: 23A2000713

RANK/TROOPER FULL NAME: Detective Trooper Benjamin Weed

STATION: VSP St. Albans

CONTACT#: 802-524-5993

DATE/TIME: 7:10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023

INCIDENT LOCATION: Keeler Bay, South Hero, VT

VICTIM: John Fleury

AGE: 71

CITY, STATE OF RESIDENCE: Williamstown, VT

VICTIM: Wayne Fleury

AGE: 88

CITY, STATE OF RESIDENCE: East Montpelier, VT

SUMMARY OF INCIDENT:

Autopsies on the victims have been completed at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington. The cause of death for Wayne Fleury has been determined to be drowning, and the manner of death is an accident. The cause and manner of death for John Fleury has been listed as pending further investigation. The state police investigation is ongoing, but the incident is not currently considered suspicious.

Meanwhile, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is continuing to advise the public to stay off the ice on Lake Champlain while the current warm weather persists. Current conditions are likely more conducive to ice loss than ice gain. On inland waters where ice conditions might be better, Fish and Wildlife is continuing to ask anglers to be cautious and use good judgment, check the ice as they go, and leave vehicles on shore.

***Update No. 2, 10:45 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023***

The victims in this incident are identified as John Fleury, 71, of Williamstown, and his brother, Wayne Fleury, 88, of East Montpelier. Autopsies will be conducted at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington to determine the cause and manner of their deaths. This incident appears to be an accident and is not considered suspicious at this time.

***Update No. 1, 5:50 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023***

The second victim in this incident, a 71-year-old resident of Williamstown, has died at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.

Further updates will be provided as the investigation continues.

***Initial news release, 10:40 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023***

The Vermont State Police is investigating after two ice fishermen fell through the ice Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, on Lake Champlain in South Hero. One of the fishermen has died, while the other was transported to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. His condition is currently unknown.

Emergency crews received a report at about 7:10 a.m. that an enclosed side-by-side UTV was operating on Keeler Bay when the vehicle broke through the ice. First responders learned that two people were in the UTV at the time. One individual, a 71-year-old man from Williamstown, was pulled from the water, brought to shore by the South Hero Fire Department, received emergency medical care and was taken by ambulance to UVMMC. The second individual, an 88-year-old man from East Montpelier, was subsequently located inside the UTV by a diver from Colchester Technical Rescue and was pronounced deceased on scene.

The names of the individuals involved will be released following notification of relatives.

The initial response was coordinated by the Grand Isle County Sheriff’s Department with assistance from the Vermont State Police. Agencies participating in the effort included Colchester Technical Rescue; fire departments from Alburgh, Grand Isle, Isle La Motte, North Hero and South Hero; Milton and South Hero rescue squads; the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife; and the Vermont State Police Field Force Division, Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Victim Services Unit.

First responders reported encountering difficult conditions on Keeler Bay due to the condition of the ice, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife is advising the public to stay off the ice on Lake Champlain this weekend due to unsafe conditions.

No further information is available at this time. The state police will provide updates as the investigation continues.