Man dies after ATV falls through thin lake ice in Minnesota


A man has died after the ATV he was driving plunged through thin ice on a lake in east-central Minnesota Wednesday afternoon.

The Sheriff's Office in Aitkin County confirmed that 62-year-old Darrel Edward Piispanen had died after breaking through the ice at Gun Lake, 15 miles northeast of Aitkin, according to KSTP.

Police were called at 3.30 p.m. Wednesday, and at around 4 p.m. removed Piispanen from between 6 to 7 feet of water, the station notes.

He was taken to the Riverwood Health Care Center in Aitkin but died that night.

The Star Tribune reports that ice thickness on the lake varied from about 1 inch, which is how thick it was where the crash occurred, to more than 6 inches.

Ice safety warnings

Minnesota Department for Natural Resources guidelines say that ice needs to be at least 5 inches thick to be suitable for ATV and snowmobiles, adding that people should stay off the ice if it is less than two inches thick.

It advises people contact local bait shops or lakeside resorts to enquire about conditions before going out on the ice, and to check the ice yourself every 150 feet, since thickness will vary.

With colder weather arriving earlier than usual in November it prompted early warnings about ice safety from the DNR.

Last weekend two fishermen from the west-Metro area had to be rescued from Long Lake after they fell through the ice, surviving despite being in the freezing water for two to three minutes, according to KARE 11.

Three people lost their lives in Minnesota last winter after falling through the ice, the Aitkin Age reports.

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