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Reports surfacing of central Minn. lake travelers going through ice again

This was the scene on Green Lake in east-central Minnesota where two fishermen went through the ice on Friday night. Photo courtesy of Linda K Fostervold Eisenreich

SPICER, Minn. — Despite the recent long stretch of below-zero weather in Minnesota in recent weeks, ice fishermen have been going through the ice on central Minnesota lakes in the past few days.

Three incidents were reported on Friday, Jan. 19. Similar reports surfaced on lakes throughout the state earlier this winter.

Two ice fishermen from Spicer in east-central Minnesota were able to safely climb out of a pickup truck that plunged into water Friday evening offshore on Green Lake in Spicer.

The men, who declined to give their last names, said in an interview they stayed dry — except one man's feet — as they climbed out of the windows of the truck after 6:15 p.m. Friday. Rescuers brought a raft and the two men were able to safely climb from the back of the pickup.

Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Sgt. Todd Neumann said in a news release that the pickup was about 200 yards east of the Spicer public access in one of several areas where water has accumulated on top of the ice after warm weather in recent days. That area is several hundred feet long and 20 to 30 feet wide, and the water depth on top of the ice ranges from inches to feet. That area and others like it are not safe.

"I'm just gonna say that no ice is safe on lakes and people need to use extreme caution,'' said Sgt. Neumann at the scene on Friday.

The pickup was in water up to its headlights, according to the news release and was surrounded by water, sitting on top of submerged ice. A tow truck was called to remove it.

The men said they had been fishing and reported 30 inches of solid ice. Both are familiar with the lake and believed they were taking a safe route back to shore when they encountered water.

In another incident, a 2016 Pioneer ATV went through the ice on Lobster Lake in about six feet of water on Friday.

The lake is near Interstate 94 just west of Alexandria.

Brian John Van Neel said he and two friends were able to get out of the ATV's enclosed cab.

Another report came from farther south near Mankato, where Le Sueur County Sheriff Brett Mason said a Ford Escape broke through the ice on Lake Washington about 2 p.m. Friday as it attempted to cross an ice heave. More than half of the vehicle driven by Russell Johnson, 82, of St. Peter was submerged.

The sheriff said Johnson was able to escape the vehicle with the assistance of nearby fishermen. Johnson was taken to an area hospital for an evaluatino, the sheriff said.

He said it was the second incident on the lake in recent days.

Reporters Carolyn Lange and Tom Cherveny contributed to this report