82-year-old dies at hospital after his ATV broke through the ice in Cass County

An 82-year-old man died at the hospital after his ATV broke through the ice on Pike Bay in Pike Bay Township Friday morning, according to a news release from the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities got a report of an ATV that had gone through the ice with a person in the water around 11:15 a.m. on Friday. Witnesses pulled the victim from the water and began lifesaving efforts until first responders got to the scene.

The victim was then brought to the hospital where he died, authorities said. On Monday, authorities identified him as Thomas Steele of Bemidji.

A second man who was a passenger on the ATV was treated on scene, authorities said. He was identified as 56-year-old Mark Jacobson, also of Bemidji.

The Sheriff’s Office said that ice conditions on lakes in the area are still extremely unsafe due to recent warm weather, rain and wind.

“Even though we have experienced colder weather this week; ice conditions still remain very unstable and poor. Areas that had open water earlier in the week may just have a thin layer of ice on them now and are not safe enough for travel. It is extremely important to check ahead when traveling on the ice,” said Sheriff Bryan Welk.

The Sheriff’s Office also shared the following ice safety guidelines:

  • 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.
  • Do not 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 is adult supervision. This includes lakes and rivers, as well as neighborhood ponds, retention ponds and anywhere ice forms.