Dangerous Thin Ice Conditions Lead to Multiple Deaths and Rescues in Minnesota

BEMIDJI, Minn. – As the weather in Minnesota continues to bring unseasonably warm temperatures, the Department of Natural Resources and law enforcement officials have issued a warning to residents about dangerous ice conditions. Multiple incidents of people falling through the ice and requiring rescue have been reported, with some resulting in tragic fatalities.

The deterioration of ice conditions has led to open water in central to southern Minnesota, while anglers in Beltrami County had to be rescued after being stranded on an ice floe that broke away from the main ice on Upper Red Lake. In addition to anglers falling into open water during the rescue attempt, there have been multiple other ice-angler rescues this season on Upper Red Lake, according to the DNR.

With temperatures expected to drop in northern Minnesota, the DNR has cautioned that the poor ice conditions will persist until a period of cold weather is able to form new, clear ice. Unfortunately, the dangerous conditions have already resulted in two deaths in December, including one individual who fell through the ice on Big Toad Lake and another who died after a commercial transport vehicle crashed through the ice on Lake of the Woods in the Northwest Angle.

Sheriff Jason Riggs of Beltrami County emphasized the importance of checking ice thickness frequently, paying close attention to the weather, and having a plan in case of an emergency. The DNR also provided safety tips including wearing a life jacket on the ice, carrying ice picks and rope, and checking ice thickness at regular intervals.

As residents continue to navigate the winter weather, it is crucial to remain vigilant and informed about the changing ice conditions in order to ensure safety. The recent incidents serve as a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of the ice during this unusual winter season in Minnesota.