Drowning, more ice rescues prompt latest ice warning from DNR
With unsafe ice conditions in many areas of Minnesota and reports of people falling through the ice increasing by the day, state officials are again urging caution.
The latest warning from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) comes on the day a body was found on a lake in far northern Minnesota and two others had to be rescued in Beltrami County.
Lake of the Woods County Sheriff Gary Fish says his office was called about a possible drowning at the Northwest Angle near Flag Island at around 8:10 a.m. Thursday.
Several agencies responded and started to search the area. A male victim’s body was found just after 3 p.m., the sheriff says. An investigation is underway and an autopsy is scheduled. The victim will be publicly identified at a later time.
Also on Thursday, two men fell through the ice on Upper Red Lake, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office says. Crews responded at around 7:30 a.m. and met the men at the resort they were staying at. Fortunately, they were both OK and plans were made to remove their ATV when the ice gets strong enough.
DNR officials say recent widespread rain, wind, and warm temperatures have degraded ice conditions to a dangerous level.
Although many Minnesotans enjoy ice fishing this time of year, DNR officials say there are little-to-no lakes in Minnesota with ice that can withstand fish houses for ice fishing and recreational vehicles, like ATVs.
In central and southern parts of Minnesota, marginal ice conditions are now open water while the ice farther north has deteriorated as well, with ice-angler rescues having occurred from Upper Red Lake at least three times since Dec. 17, according to the DNR.
Officials say that while temperatures are forecasted to drop, ice conditions will remain poor until there’s a string of cold days to form new, clear ice.
“Many of us love to spend the New Year’s holiday with family and friends on the ice,” said Col. Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division. “But when it comes to ice conditions, the calendar doesn’t matter.”
According to the DNR, no ice can ever be considered “safe ice,” but following these guidelines can help minimize the risk:
- Always wear a life jacket or float coat on the ice (except when in a vehicle).
- Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure.
- Check ice thickness at regular intervals; conditions can change quickly.
- Bring a cell phone or personal locator beacon.
- Don’t go out alone; let someone know about trip plans and expected return time.
- Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.
- Parents and guardians should talk with their children about staying away from the ice unless there’s adult supervision. This includes lakes and rivers, as well as neighborhood ponds, retention ponds and anywhere ice forms.