Time to shut down Lake Minnetonka ice channels? - New York News

  • Should Lake Minnetonka's frozen channels be closed to vehicle and snowmobile traffic?

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Time to shut down Lake Minnetonka ice channels?

Posted: Updated:
EXCELSIOR, Minn. (KMSP) -

This winter, 14 vehicles or snowmobiles have broken through the ice on Lake Minnetonka, and all but one took place in channels or on pressure ridges. Three people have died in these incidents.

Is it time to shut down Lake Minnetonka's channels to ice traffic?

In January, an 8-month-old girl died 60 hours after she was rescued. Isabelle Markle spent about 15 minutes in the frigid water before a volunteer firefighter pulled the baby girl and her parents onto solid ground.

Officials say the ice under the bridge was thinner than in other areas of the lake, and warnings were posted at the time.

Just this past weekend, a car broke through the ice under Gray's Bay Bridge, sending 31-year-old Harland Dietrich and his 87-year-old grandmother, Mary Ann Haram, into ten feet of water. Officials estimate the two spent nearly an hour in the water before they were rescued and rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center in critical condition, where they died Sunday.

Friends of Dietrich told FOX 9 News he was new to ice fishing and was unfamiliar with the perils of the channels, which are marked with warning signs.

A fund has been established at Wells Fargo under the name "Harland Dietrich Memorial Fund."

Andy Weinzierl has spent decades fishing on the lake, he said the dangerously thin ice in the channels is well known in the area -- but he now said they should consider blocking them off.

"Couldn't hurt," he said.

The Minnesota DNR's brochure on ice safety states begins with boldface on the first page that says, "ice formed over flowing water and currents is often dangerous. This is especially true near streams, bridges and culverts."

MINNESOTA DNR ICE TRAVEL GUIDELINES

2" or less - STAY OFF

4" - Ice fishing or other activities on foot

5" - Snowmobile or ATV

8" - 12" - Car or small pickup

12" - 15" - Medium truck

Note: these guidelines are for new, clear solid ice. Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.

What if your vehicle breaks through?
http://dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/vehicle.html

DNR guide: Traveling on ice
http://dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/travel.html

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