It may be pretty, but going behind Minnehaha Falls is dangerous

A chunk of ice fell on a woman's head Sunday afternoon.
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Minnehaha Falls is a popular place to take photos – but getting up close to the frozen falls is illegal, and can be dangerous.

Every year, Minneapolis parks officials remind visitors that there are only two places to view the frozen falls safely and legally – from the footbridge above the falls or the overlook near the Sea Salt restaurant, the Minneapolis Park Board posted on Facebook.

But every year, people ignore warnings and trespassing signs, duck under the barricades and go behind the frozen waterfall. They may take some incredible photos, but doing so is illegal because of how dangerous the moving water, boulders and slippery slopes can be, the park board said.

A 20-year-old woman who trespassed at the frozen falls learned this first hand Sunday afternoon, Robin Smothers of the Minneapolis Park Board, told GoMN Monday. She was hit on the head by falling ice and was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, WCCO reports.

Video of a huge chunk of ice falling at the falls was posted to Facebook:

Minnehaha falls this afternoon

Posted by Judy Babcock on Sunday, January 8, 2017

This Twitter user took photos of the apparent incident:

After Sunday's incident, seven people were cited for trespassing, Smothers told GoMN. Park Police had been warning people all weekend to get out of the area beneath the falls. On Saturday, 75 people received warnings, and on Sunday another 60 people were warned to get out of the area.

Park officials say going behind the falls not only puts you at risk of getting hurt, but it also endangers first responders who have to go down into the frozen falls if someone gets injured.

Sunday's incident marked the first time this year where police were called to the falls, Smothers said, noting most accidents where someone gets hurt aren't reported to police – and they typically are only called to the park when an injury requires emergency medical care or evacuation.

There were two injury incidents reported to police in 2016, according to Smothers. One in March, when a 24-year-old woman flipped on a rock behind the falls and suffered what could have been a broken ankle, and then in December a 35-year-old man cut his leg while trying to scale a fence at the park. He admitted that he ignored signs telling him to avoid the area.

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