Ice-related deaths on record pace in Minn.by Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
MINNEAPOLIS — This winter is on pace be one of the deadliest for ice-related fatalities.
Officials with the Department of Natural Resources say five people have died so far after falling through frozen lakes and a sixth person is missing and presumed drowned. Eight people died from ice-related incidents in the winter of 2006-2007.
Kara Owens, a boat and water safety specialist with the Department of Natural Resources, said the deaths have all involved people riding snowmobiles or driving vehicles across the ice. Owens said recent snowfall and temperature changes have made the ice particularly unstable.
"The freezing and the refreezing of the ice and the snow, that kind of forms like a honeycomb-type of ice, which isn't strong enough, maybe, to hold the weight of a normal human being," Owens said. "Ice is never 100 percent safe and they cannot let their guard down."
Owens said Lake Minnetonka has been the site of three deaths so far this winter.
"All (of the deaths) happened in channel and bridge areas," Owens said. "Ice on channels and near bridges is very unsafe. It's because the water in the channel is rushing and it's hard for strong ice to form on top of a current."
Last month a 9-month-old girl died after her family's SUV fell through the ice near a channel on Lake Minnetonka. The girl's father, Jonathan Markle, was charged with criminal vehicular homicide.
Owens said people should call 911 for help if they see a person or animal fall through the ice, instead of risking their own safety.