Another scary incident over the weekend proves that the ice on Minnesota lakes is never completely safe.
According to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, a witness called 9-1-1 on Saturday after spotting a man and child standing on top of a vehicle on Lake Ida, submerged in water. Law enforcement and first responders used a flotation device to rescue the pair, who were cold and wet but otherwise uninjured.
Patrick Wolf, 34, of Alexandria and his 4-year-old daughter had been heading out to an ice house when their vehicle broke through the ice, the sheriff's office said. The vehicle, described as an "Artic Cat side by side UTV," sank into about seven feet of water. Authorities say Wolf was not familiar with Lake Ida, which has an open water channel on the north end of the lake.
Now the sheriff's office is warning people to use extreme caution on the lakes. The unseasonably warm weather we've been experiencing lately can cause ice conditions to change rapidly, creating areas of thin ice and open water. Authorities advise all persons going out on the lake wear a life preserver and have ice picks for self-rescue.
This definitely isn't the first ice warning we've heard from authorities this season. Warm weather has made the ice unpredictable, and in many cases not safe to go out on.
Officials consistently say ice is never completely safe. There’s always a chance that something unexpected can happen.
But generally speaking, the DNR says ice should be at least 4 inches thick before you walk on it, and nearly a foot thick if you’re driving a vehicle on it. Their website has safety tips if you plan on going out on the ice.
Four people died after breaking through ice last year, DNR figures show. Of all the deaths from the 2010-11 winter, through the 2014-15 winter, half of them occurred when someone was on a snowmobile or ATV. About a quarter each happened with another vehicle, or with someone on foot.