2019 Ice Season Fatalities

This page contains summaries of reports on ice fatalities during the 2019 ice season that runs from November 4, 2018 to May 8, 2019.  The information mostly comes from newspaper or news broadcasts that are available on the www. Some accidents that do not involve a fatality are included if they are instructive.  This page is presently a work in progress.

 

Bob

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Data:

There were 65 fatalities in 54 accidents.  Ten of them were double fatalities and one resulted in the deaths of three people. 

Of the cases where the time of day was known, 27 fatalities were in the dark and 20 were during the day. 

Cause of death: 46 drowned, 13 from blunt force trama, two from cardiac arrest and two from hypothermia and one case where the victim of cold water exposure and died 9 days later from complications.  Note: both cardiac arrest and hypothermia are probably under reported.

By State or Provence

14 in Alaska

9 in Ontario

9 in Michigan

5 in Minnesota, Wisconsin

4 in Indiana, Wisconsin

3 in New York, Iowa

2in Colorado, Manitoba, New Hampshire, Washington

1in Alberta, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Yukon 

There was a  huge jump in accidents in subarctic, mostly in Alaska.  There where there were 14 fatalities in Alaska.  In Canada there were four more fatalities for a total of 18 breakthrough or open water fatalities.  This is way up from an average of one fatality/year over the past few years. All but two of the fatalities were on rivers which are widely used as transportation.  There were many reports of higher temperatures, rotten ice and open water in times of the year when people expected winter conditions.  These fatalities are part of the massive changes taking place in the sub-arctic.

Along the same lines, the southern edge of the ice belt moved about 200 miles north this year.  The southern edge of fatal accident goes from Iowa to Wisconsin to Michigan to Indiana to Ontario to New york to New England.  There are no southern outliers this year.  Usually there a couple of accidents in places like Georgia, Tennasee and Missouri 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By age: 

age 0 to 4: none

age 5-12: 6

age 0-17: 10

age 18-24: 2

age 25-34: 6

age 35-49: 13

age-50+:   25

age 50-65: 16

age: 66+:   8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above picture is from Google Maps showing the general area


November 4, 2018, Fish River AK

A 63 year old subsistence fisherman who was driving an ATV, broke through ice on the Fish River (red mark). He was able to call his family and tell them what had happened and where he was.  Difficult weather conditions delayed the recovery for several days. 


 

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 November 20, 2018  Sagkeeng First Nation   , Midnight,  Winnipeg River

A man and woman riding a snowmobile attempted to cross the Winnipeg River.  There was about 100 meters of snow covered ice on the shores of the river and open water in the center.  The bodies were recovered about two months later when the water level, current speed and temperatures were reasonable for divers.

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November 22, 2019. 12:25 PM,  Montezuma, IA, private pond.

A 6 year old boy broke through the ice near a dam on a private pond.  He died.  His 12 year old  sister and their  father were rescued by first responders.  

The average temperature for the previous two weeks was about 15 degrees. Inlets and outlets often have thin ice or open water.  

More about kids  

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December 9, 2018, Wyoming, MI.  9 PM Battjes Park

A 38 year old woman  took her dog for a walk.  The dog returned home wet and with a leash.  The victim was found under the ice by rescue personnel

More and Dogs and Ice 

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December 8, 2019  Fish Trap Lake North of Cushing  MN

A 69 year old man and a 71 year old man broke through at a ridge.  They were riding on a Polarius Side By Side,  One man was found in the vehicle and one was on the ice.

Entrapment fatalities with vehicles with caps happen a few times year.  Crossing pressure ridges in vehicles is asking for trouble.    The vehicle in this case probably weighed over 1600 lb all up. Float times are pretty short in ATV type of vehicles.

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December 12, 2018  3 PM   Lafayette IN

Two fishermen were on a farm pond when both of them broke through.  One was able to self rescue get to a nearby house to call 911.  The other man (age 63) was not able to self rescue.  He was reported to have been in the water or under the ice for about 25 minutes.  He was in the hospital in critical condition for a few hours before dying.  

The most important preventative tool for travel on foot is a test pole.  It eliminate most of the 'body weight testing' by allowing checking ice strength quickly and effectively.  Walking single file with some separation also helps.  

Speculatively it probably took few minutes for the survivor  to get to shore and get to a phone. It was nine minutes from then the 911 call was made to when the first professional responders arrived and 9 more minutes to when the victim was off the ice. This seems to to me to be a speedy response and it shows why life jackets are so important.  They provide a survival time of about 45 minutes with would have been plenty of time in this case.  They also make self rescue more likely to be successful.  Ice claws and throw ropes probably would have helped as well. 

The temperatures in the first 12 days of the month started with a strong thaw that probably melted any ice sheet that was in place.  It was colder after that with about as many thaw degree days as freezing degrees days. In general, ice melts more for each thaw degree day than grows for each freezing degree day.  There do not appear to be any affects like water flow or snow on the ice. 

The pond is about 200 by 400 feet and 10-15 feet deep.

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December 17, 2018  2:31 AM  Ontonagon County MI Lake Gobic

A 46 year old woman was riding along the shore of the lake when she hit some rocks.  She was ejected and hit some trees.  Speed and weather conditions were attributed to the fatality.

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December 19, 2018, Guelph ONT, Guelph Lake, 3:30 PM

A 62 year woman was sailing her DN iceboat with her spouse when she broke through.  Her spouse attempted to rescue her and ended up in the water, unable to get out. First Responders got them out.  She passed away and he survived.

The accident took place about 200 feet off shore. The temperatures over the last 8 days coming up to the accident averaged 32 degrees.  

The sorce of the weak ice could have been a folded pressure ridge which can be difficult to see, especially with the late day sun. 

The newspaper articles about the accident described them as careful about checking the ice and other safety measures.  

It looks like they did not have ice claws and may not throw ropes. Iceboaters generally do not wear flotation.   Modern DN's have water compartments that allow a wet sailor  to keep their upper body on the boat.  Older DN's have little flotation.  Steel tube boats like a Skimmer sink like a stone.  

My feeling is crusing sailors should have life jackets or float coats as they likely to be traveling over ice that has not been checked out. When people are racing, the ice is generally (but not always) better checked for obstructions on the race course.   

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December 22, 2018  3:PM  Big Lake, AK,  Burston Island

Two men (ages 64 and 66) were riding snowmobiles on Big Lake and both of them broke through and drowned.  The ice was described as 9" and rotten.   There was snow on the ice and slush between the snow and the ice sheet.  A helicopter being used for the search reported thin ice and holes being exposed by the effects of the downwash.

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December 25, 2018,  Apsley ONT,  Jack Lake

a 76 year old man and 69 year old woman were returning home on Jack Lake about 11:00 PM.  They broke through about 30 feet from shore and both died.  

The weather during December was relatively warm with three thaws, one reaching 45 degrees.  1.4" of rain or wet snow fell during the thaws.  It is also early in the ice season so the water is likely still cooling off.  The lake has lots of water over 50 feet and some over 140 feet: plenty of water for the wind to mix warmer water around the lake. 

Life jackets and ice claws  might have saved the day as would being taken home by car.  

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December 25, 2018  Quebec Montreal  Lak St Louis Morning

A 58 year old man went for a solo skate on Christmas morning.  He was found on  the ice far off shore.  He had a heart attack and died

 

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12/27/28  11:30AM  Ontonagon Lake Gogebc MI

A 46 year old woman was snowmobileing along the edge of Lake Gogebc when she hit some rocks that ejected her into a fallen tree.  

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December 31, 2018, after dark.  Junction of the Kuskokwim and Gweek Rivers AK

Six people were traveling on the ice on the rivers.  They broke throuigh at the junciton.  No information on the what type of vehicles were involed was found. Five of the men self rescued.  The 6th died.  Alcohol was involved. 

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January 1, 2019,  mid day  Nova Scotia, Halafax, Lake Charlotte

A 25 year man went four wheeling on Lake Charlotte.  He broke through near some open water and drowned. 

A life jacket and ice claws are a basic part of being prepared to be on the ice.  

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January 4, 2019,  Alpina MI, Long Lake 10:30 am

A 60 year old woman fell though the ice on Long Lake while riding a snowmobile.  She was not able to self rescue but was able to call 911. She was about 200 yards from shore.  The ice around her was weak. The first responder did not have a suit and he was stopped by weak ice.   The woman'an boyfriend, on other snowmobile, broke through trying to get close enough.  Responders with suits arrved and also broke through rescuing the boyfriend but they were not able to to get the woman out.  An airboat arrived and they were able to get the woman out the water.  She passed away.

 Possible factors are snow on top of the ice that prevented it getting thick enough. The lake might also have not been cold enough to catch and have ice that grew thick enough to support a snowmobile. Having said that the lake is mostly 20 feet or less deep.   Pressure ridges or new ice holes are other possibilities that create localized weak ice.   

Temperatures in December had some cold weather but also a couple of warm spells (one in the middle of month and another at the end of the month.  A cold short but intense cold spell on the on the second including about four inches of snow.  The 4th and 5th both reached the low fortes with sunny conditions. 

click here for another link

 

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January 6, 2019  9:24 AM,  Carleton Place ONT,  Mississippi Lake

A Volkswagon sedan broke through the ice on a narrow part of the lake. Two men were inside.  One was   removed by rescue personell.  He survived and was teated for hypothermia. A second man died.  

This area had several break throughs piror to January 6 and in previous years. The underlying cause of the area  weak ice is not clear.  It may have river like properties (currents strong enough to mix the water in that part of the lake or a folded ridge (especailly with some blowing snow).  If the local fishermen and rescue people agree that there is a persistant hazard here it should be anounced in local news papers or TV news in a short article about ice safety when the ice is starting to come in. 

 

 

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January 7, 2019   3 PM  Sparta WI  Perch Lake

Two boys (8 and 12) were on the ice near the dam on the west end of Perch Lake. They  broke through.  The 12 year old boy was able to hang onto the edge of the ice until rescuers got to him.  The nine year old boy did not survive.  He broke through near open water. 

There were a couple of modest thaws in late December and one 7 thaw degree day thaw from Jan 4 to 7.  

Dams often have thin or no ice near them.  The amount of weakening depends on water temperature, depth, flow rate, and other factors.  In this case there may have been siginficant weakening of the ice on the many warm days aleading up the the tragedy.  

Life jackets would probably have been the most important piece of safety gear.  After that, ice claws, test poles and rope would be the most helpful.  If you live near frozen water you might consider getting them life jacket and explain why they should be used on water and ice.  

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January 14, 2019  West Bourogh MA Mill Pond, late afternoon 

Two skaters were about 2000 feet off shore when one fell through. A dog walker heard their shouts for help.  First responders rescued the 19 year old victim after 15 minutes in the water: pretty impressive given the considrabe distance they were off shore.  

 It looks like the pond may have cought on the 12th and grew to about 2.5 to 3" by the 14th. The ice appeared to have a large area with LOTS of refrozen (probably thin) new ice holes. They would have caught overnight when the temps were in the low teens and the winds were light. You can see the ice in the drone footage that is part of the link at the top of this report.

Dr Giesbecht's statement   "Stay off the ice or prepare to go through" sums the sutuation up well.  Basic equipment like ice claws,  test poles, life jackets and throw ropes would have make a brush with death into a cold skate back to shore.

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January 16, 2019  3:40 PM  Bay of Quinte ONT

A 78 year old man was sailing a DN iceboat.  He had a heart attack and died.  It is not clear whether the heart attack caused him to loose control of the boat or if the heart attack was caused by the collision with the pressure ridge.

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January 18, 2019,  1:30 AM.  Anoka Counth, MN  

A 33 year old snomobile driver hit a tree while exiting an ice covered lake.  Alcohol was involved.

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January 18 2019  about 7:00 PM,  Marenisco MI, Gogebic Lake

Two men (23 and 53) on snowmobiles collided. Speed and alcohol were thought to be factors.

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January 20, 6 pm  Storm Lake Iowa, Storm Lake

A 40 year old father of three kids drove onto the ice after an afternoon together.  The vehicle broke through.  The father was able get all the kids back on the ice.  The son (11) and father died.  The 5 and 9 year old daughters survived.  

The submersion was observed by people on shore who called 911 quickly and helped rescuers identfy where the submersion point was located..  

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January 22, 2019  Lake Winnebago. 9:30 PM.  

Four people were riding near the edge of Lake Winnebago.  One ATV with a 23 year old man and a 22 year old passanger broke through the ice.  The second ATV with a 55 year old man also broke through.  A 69 year old man did not break through.  The 23 year old man self rescued,  got his pasenger out but was not able to rescue the 55 year old man who died.

Basic safety gear probably would have saved the day.

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January 26, 2019  Old Lyme CT  Rogers Lake

Two men were skating at 3:30 pm on Rogers Lake. They both broke through. One of the men died and one recovered.

In one of the news video's the broken ice looked to be less than 1.5".  The four days running up to the the peak temp was 56 degrees and it never got below freezing.  The 26th was a little colder but it was far from firming up the ice from the previous thawing.

They should have test poles, ice claws, throw ropes and better sence than to go out on such margional ice.

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January 30, 2019 midnight Faro Yukon Drury Lake

Two men, riding snowmobiles, broke through on Drury lake.  One of them was able to self rescue the other submirged and drowned.  He was 36.  

Floatation or life jackets, ice claws and throw ropes would have improved the odds

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February 1, 2019, Livingston County, Sandy Bottom Lake MI

Two men were snowmobiling and got separated .  One of the men (67) broke through on a canal connecting Sandy Bottom Lake and Dollar Lake (see Google Map picture below). His buddy found him and pulled him out of the water.  He died from cardiac arrest.

It is likely that that the canal has enough flow that it is turbulent (well mixed).  This allows deeper and warmer to mix with the 32 degree water at the bottom of the icesheet. The mixing thins the ice sheet.  This is common when lakes turn into rivers.   More on ice and rivers

 

More about river ice

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February 1, 2019  7 PM   Cannelburg IN  

About 7 pm officials received a call about a 55 year old ice fisherman requesting an ice rescue. The man died before first responders were able to bring him off the ice.  The ice thickness was found to be about 2" thick where he broke through.  

The temperature was below freezing starting January 23.  There been a number of temperature swings above and below the  freezing point before that.  From the history graph alone it is hard to determine what the degree of thaw was at the time of the accident. 

The man did not have safety equipment. A test pole is a good way of determining the ice strength. Two inches of cold ice should easily support a person. If the ice were thinner or weaker the test pole will let you know.  A life jacket would have given him the better part of an hour for first responders to rescue him.  Ice claws make it easier to pull your self onto the ice.   

 

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February 1, 2019  1PM  Dover NH,  Bellamy River.

A 12 year old did not return home after school.  His body was found under the ice on the river.  

More on kids and ice

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February 2, 2019 Fillmore IN Heritage Lake 8PM

Two off road vehicles ventured out onto the lake and both broke through. A 48 year old man was unable to get back onto the ice and he died.  The second man was able to self rescue.  The ice was described as 2" thick. That is around the break through thickness for a 600 lb all up weight on cold black ice.  

 Life Jackets probably would have saved the day.  A throw rope may have made rescue easier.   If you have the ice claws and know the technique for self rescue you should have pretty good odds on getting out.  

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February 3, 2019  1AM  Grand Mesa,   CO  Island Lake

Two men (both about 30 years old) took a short ride on Island Lake in a 15,000 lb snow cat.  It broke through and the men were killed.  They had been advised by locals that this was risky but they went anyway.  

Drilling holes might have allowed them to determine that their trip was foolhardy.  

 

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February 4, 2019   Semprnivs NY,   Skanoateles Lake, afternoon.

An 82 year old fisherman broke through the ice and was not able to climb out. Rescue personell were not able to get to the man in time.  The fisherman was described as a skilled outdoors man.  

the temperature was 61 degrees and records were being set all over the area.  Ice weakens quickly at such high temperatures, especially if the sun is out.  The sun is also significantly stronger in early February than it is in late December.  

Weakening of an ice sheet by exposure to sunlight takes place internally at grain bounderies and similar internal features in the ice.  This reduces the overall amount of thinning of the ice but increases the weakening, especially if the ice is small grain size ice (S2 ice also known as candeled ice).  It is common for people to stay  out on the ice so long that the ice gets to weak to support them. The ice in one of the pictures looked like it was about 2" thick with an avrage grain size of about two inches.  

The fisherman was described as a skilled outdoorsman.  A life jacket, ice claws and a buddy with a throw rope might have saved the day.  If the ice had weakened too much the life jacket and a prompt 911 call  are probably the only things that would have worked. 

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February 5, 2019  noon Trenton NJ, Cadwlader Park

A 14 year old boy was playing basket ball with three friends.  The ball went out of bounds at the northeast  end of the court, across the bike path and onto the ice covered Delaware and Raritan Canal.  The boy went onto the ice and broke through. He was unable to self rescue and others were not able to get him out in time to save him.

There were many warm days during January with enough cool days to establish and keep an ice sheet.  At the time of the accident the temperature was 70 degrees! There were 33 thaw degree days on the three days running up to the accident. That is enough to weaken several inches of ice to the point that it will not hold up body weight.

More on ice and kids  

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February 9, 2019  approximately 4:30 PM  Stockbridge WI. Lake Winnebago  

A 56 year old man was riding his his snowmobile, hit a natural obstruction, was ejected and then the snowmobile hit him.   Alcohol and speed were involved.

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February 9, 2019 Evart MI  Muskegon River

Three teens walked on the Muskegon River and broke through.  Two of them self rescued and a 15 year old boy was swept under the ice and not recovered for four months. His body moved about 3.4 miles down stream.

The river does not appear to have a lot of dams to regulate flow.  There was a half inch overnight rain storm on February 3.  That may have created thin areas where warm water flowed along the bottom of the ice sheet making it thinner.  

 

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February 9, 2019   Forest Co WI, 

A 23 year old man was riding as a passenger on a snowmobile.  He was ejected while they went over some rough snow on the lake.  The snowmobile was thaught to have been going too fast.  The ejected passenger was hit by the following snowmobile.  His BAC was 0.124% 

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February 11, 2019  afternoon,  Orwell VT   Southern Lake Champlain

On February 13 I visited the scene and talked to a few people.  It appears that a local ice fisherman set up a few tip-ups and other gear near near the Singing Cedars fishing access. He then drove his pick up across the lake where he talked to a New York fisherman and then drove north about three miles to Chipman Point.  I was told by the Vermont State Police that he broke through at Chipmen Point, the narrowest point on the lake north of Benson Landing. Note: google maps shows most of the locations refered to in this report. A navigation map for Lake Champlain is even better.

Lake Champlain south of the Champlain Bridge is one of the first places to freeze in the fall so we often skate there.  It also has river like behavior in narrow places.   Crown Point has often has dodgy ice.  Five Mile Point almost always has open water and dodgy ice.  The area from the cable ferry south to Independence Mountain is often thin.  The ice at Chipmen Point is often thin (weak).  On the wider section of lake off Singing Cedars I found the ice was around 13" at the time of the accident.  The calculated break through thickness of cold ice for a two ton truck is a little under 6" inches.  

Two snowmobilers died there in 2018.  I have been tracking North American ice fatalities for seven years. Chipman Point has had more fatalities than any other persistent hazard I am aware of.  

 

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February 13, 2019  8:30 PM Greenville MI,  Lincoln Lake

A 29 year old man went snowmobiling on Lincoln Lake with a friend.    The lead rider found himself on a piece of dodgy ice. He made the 911 call.  He was rescued with an airboat brought in from another department. The victim was not on the surface by the time they got to where he had been.   

The video associated with the news article linked above suggests a weak spot is common in that area.  It is common to have persistent pressure ridges coming off points or weak spots on the shore. They are often folded ridges that can be hard to see and can further hidden if snows. Ridges become active and weaken when the temperature changes, especially when it gets warmer.  There was a two thaws in January, one in early February and a second short one the day of the accident.  

Life jackets or similar flotation will keep you out of the water well enough to survive 3/4 to one hour making it much more likely that Rescue will get to you in time. Ice claws make it easier to get back on the ice.   

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February 14, 2019   Berwick Maine  Salmon Falls River

Two men were riding snowmobiles on the Salmon Falls River at about 6PM.  Both of them broke through and managed to get back on the ice only to fall in again before getting off the river.  One of the men (59 years old) died 9 days later of complications.  

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February 16, 2019  11:18 PM  Long Lake NY

A 44 year old man was riding a snowmobile about 100 yards from shore when he encountered open water or breaking of weak ice. The man was ejected causing fatal blunt force trama.  A friend called 911.

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February 17, 2019    Bayfield WI

A 50 year old man on a snowmobile collided with an OHV and was killed.  Alcohol was thought to be involved.  The details of this account are pending.

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February 24  7:37 AM Jasper County IN.  private pond

A 48 year old fisherman and his buddy broke through.  The second man was able to get to shore and call 911 but was unable to reach the first man.  They had no safety equipment.  

For fishermen on foot they need a life jacket/float coat of float suit.  That would buy time for Rescue time to get there before you drown.  Ice claws will give traction to make getting out easier and more certain.  A test pole or spud is very helpful for identifying and avoiding weak ice and a throw rope to give you a better chance of successfully rescuing your buddy up to 70 feet away from the victim.

Ponds generally are the first ice that melts.  The stronger sun warms the water deeper in the pond.  When the temperature gets to 39 degrees the whole water column can convect and bring the warmer, deeper water into contact with the bottom of the ice sheet.  

There were lots of sunny days and short thaws.  The  biggest thaw was at the beginning of the month with 28 thaw degree days. This is approximately enough thawing to weaken 4 or more inches to the point it will not hold body weight.   There were 11 more running up to the to the accident.   

More on ponds

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March  Charlevoix County MI  Lake Walloon Lake (Pending)

A snowmobile was driving off the ice on Lake Walloon lake and was thrown into trees by roughness at the shore edge.  

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March 4, 2019, about midnight   Gravenhurst ONT, Lake Muskoko, Lighthouse narrows

Google map of the Lighthouse Narrows.

Five people on three snowmobiles attempted to ride through the Lighthouse Narrows at around midnight. They were getting to turn around when all three machines broke through the ice.  The 37, 31 and 14 aged riders were able to swim to shore.  The 11 and 15 year olds were not successful. 

Life jackets would have significantly improved the survival odds.  

From the news video it looks like the ice looks to be about an inch thick and quite weak. The temperatures for the previous month was mostly well below freezing with occasional short thaws. It is likely that water flow through the Narrows was turbulent allowing warmer, deeper water to be brought up to contact with the the bottom of the ice sheet, thinning and possibly weakening the ice more than less thickness.  Light snow that was on the ice probably increased the thinning rate.

The news video showed snowmobiles going through the Narrows at high speed. I did not see any spray.  Also there is a snowmobile trail that went around the the Narrows.

The geology and glacial erosion history in this part of Ontario creats many narrows.  They should be found and made known.  The LakeIce persistent hazard map is one example of displaying hazards that occur repeatedly in the same place. If you know of persistant hazards, let me know the longitude and lattitude and what the hazard is and how persistant it is.  

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March 10 2019, Rusk County, WI, Flambeau River

A 61 year old man riding on a snomobile struck a beam on the underside of a bridge.

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March 10, 2019 Tuntuliak town      

A man and a woman  were were riding a snomobile to the town of Tuntuliak. He drove into unmarked open water.  They were able to self rescue.  They had a different opinion about which way to get back.  The women was found in a few hours.  The man was not found until the next morning.  He was minimially responsive and died after being warmed and returned to the village.

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March 15? 2019  Swampy area on the Kuskowkwim River Alaska

The body of a 41 year old man was recovered. He was found in the water and there was damage to the snowmobile.  

This and other large rivers in Alaska are major transportation routes between vilages and towns. 

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March 12, 2019,  5:30  PM   Van Zandt , WA, Private Pond

Two men(49 and 73) drowned trying to rescue two dogs. One of the dogs self rescued.

Leashes, staying  on shore or calling 911 immediately  probably would have saved both men and the deceased dog.  

More on dogs and ice.  

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March 24, 2019  ONT  Hassard Lake

A 42 year old man was driving a VW.  He was fairly near some open water and he broke through.  Parametics were able to get him to shore however he had expired. There were two thaws and a lot of sunny days during March up to the 24th

Flotation would have saved the day and ice claws might have as well.

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March 26, 2019  Champlain New York

A 56 year old woman slipped on the ice and fell along the edge of Lake Champlain.  She died of hypothermia. She frequently walked in this area. 

Foot traction is a greatly underutilized tool for getting through winter.  There are lots of types and all of them are way cheaper than the cost of an injury.  If you are doing  higher risk activities, a helmet, knee pads, hip pads and elbo pads reduce the injury risk.  

 Most skaters wack their knees and elbo's often enough that they wear knee elbo pads.  In the US most skanters wear a helmit.  In Sweden, helmets are used at a lower rate (something about old dogs and new tricks).

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March 28, 2019  AK  Bethel Kanetok River

A 48 year old man who had been missing after leaving on a snomobile trip. Searchers found him in the river. 

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March 31, evening, Bethel AK,  Kuskokwim River

Five men on two ATV's on the river when they both broke throgh needle ice (candeled ice).  Three of the men survived and two drowned.  Alcohol was involved.  

The rescue personnel commented that they had never seen needle ice so early.  

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 April 3, 2019  Carcajou ALB  Peace River

A 64 year old man attempted to cross the Pease River in northern Alberta.  He was traveling in a small tractor and was followed by others in two pick-up trucks.  The man was most of the way across when he abruptly broke through.  He did not resurface.  

Tractors have very short escape time.  Tractors with cabs often take their passengers with them when they plunge through the ice.

The weather stayed over freezing on most days and nights starting March 10 and with sunny days after March 19.  This  most likely would have melted any snow and filled the river. 

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April 6, 2019,  Meeting House Pond in Marlborough NH,  probably early evening.

 A man was walking his dog.The dog went out onto ice on the pond and broke through about 50 yards from shore.  The dog was a Golden Retriever.  An attempt to rescue the dog with a 6" diameter log was made. At some time the man ended in the water.  The man and the dog drowned.

The ice was well thawed with many days in the 40's, 50's and 60's.  A heavy, wet dog is difficult to get back on the ice from the water.  A leash would give control of the dog.  A dog life jacket would keep the dog on the surface wile Rescue got the scene. 
 

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April 15, 2019 Noatak AK (north of the arctic circle) a few miles down river from the village. 

Three people were riding two snowmachines on the Noatak river .  A 36 year old man rode ahead without problems. The second sled with a 31 year old woman and an 11 year old child broke through.  It appears that the man died trying to save the others.  .  

Snow machines can sometimes  plane across weak ice or open water if they are driven aggressively enough, the belt does not get wet and you are lucky. 

Ice claws, life jackets or other flotation, throw ropes and a test pole make rescue more likely to succeed.

Click this link to an Anchorage Daily News report on the very warm winter of 2019

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April 17, 2109,  10:30 PM Port Perry ONT,  Lake Scugog

Two sleds with two people on each were on a night time ride.  The lead snowmobile drove into open water. The driver was able to self rescue.  The passenger, a 15 year old woman, died.

Life jackets probably would have saved the day.  Ice claws probably would have helped.  Open water is easier to see in daylight.  It was thought that the driver got crossed up with the directions he had.

The temperature from the beginning of April to the accident averaged 39 degrees with only four days with an average temperature below freezing.  There were about 130 thaw degree days from the thaw on March 25 to April 17.  That is enough to weaken about 20 inches of hard ice.  There were two more thaws earlier in March. Once open water starts to appear it allows the wind to stir the deeper warmer water with the ice and cold water at the bottom of the ice sheet.  

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May 6, 2019 early morning?  Kobuk AK  Kobuk River

A 52 year old man left on a solo 40 mile trip from Kobuck from Ambler on the river trail.  He broke through about a mile south of Ambler.  A search team found his body.  Flotation (float suit, float jacket or life jacket)and ice claws probably would have saved a life.

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May 8, 2019  Golovin AK , at night 

 A 27 year old man and some friends were water skipping his snowmobile over a 30 foot diameter patch of open water near the town.  On his last run he failed to get across the open water and drowned.  

The victim made repeated runs with his snowmobile.  Maybe the belt got wet, causing the snowbile to loose traction needed to accelerate.  

 Life jackets, ice claws and throw ropes probably would have saved a life.