Fatalities on North American Ice 

January 19, 2014 to January 31, 2014



Amery WI, January 25, 2014

A 26 year old snowmobile rider attempted to drive under a bridge on the Apple River (most likely the Central Avenue Bridge). It was after dark.  He is reported to have intended to skip the open water under the bridge but there was insufficient clearance.  His BAC was  0.214%.  


Montezuma OH, Grand Lake St Marys,  January 25, 2014

Red marker is the location of Shocker's Bar and Grill.  

A 34 year old man rode his snowmobile onto Grand Lake St Marys in Montazuma Bay after leaving Shocker's around midnight. He was later reported missing.  After several hours of searching by a large number of people his helmit was spotted floating in open water.  The victim's body was recovered shortly thereafter.  

It was reported that the snowmobile crashed. It is not clear what the ice circumstances were.   Temperatures for the 10 days before the accident averaged 18 degrees and January was colder than normal overall.  The lake had been frozen since late December or early January.  While there are several things that might have caused open water, a folded ridge is the most likely source of open water.  

This is the seventh example so far this year of a someone dying on ice covered water, on a sled,  at night, at speed, over driving their headlight and with a high probably of alcohol involved. This is a proven recipe for tragedy. 


Mifflin WI, January 25, 2014

An 52 year old ice fisherman was at home, getting ready to go fishing when he slipped and fell on a slick, snow covered road.  He hit his head in the fall (most likely a 'feet slip foreward' type fall).  The man was unconscious and stopped breathing. A bystander performed CPR and rescue personel were called. The man died in the hospital. 

This is not an 'frozen lake situation' but it does show that wearing foot traction is important for walking outside pretty much anywhere in the winter, not just for walking on bare ice on a frozen lake. 

Skaters often fall walking from the car to the ice.  Skaters also have a lot of 'feet slip foreward' falls on their skates which is one of several reasons why a helmit  is important.  


 Rapid City SD January 28, 2014


Temperatures and wind in Rapid City leading up the the accident (from www.wunderground.com/)

A man, 65, drove (accidently or on purpose) his pickup truck onto the ice on a small stock pond.  The vehicle broke through and submerged so the passenger side windows were mostly out of the water.  The drivers side windows were submerged to the roof.  911 was called by a family member.  

This is a sunny and windy place and the sun is getting stronger by late January. More importantly, when the high winds come on warm days they cause very rapid ice thickness loss.  Starting four days before the accident there was a 56 hour, windy thaw when the steady winds were around 30 mph and gusts reached 66.  The peak temperature was 61 degrees.  The cold weather in the two days before the accident would have added about three inches to the ice thickness.  The cold temperatures might have given the man false confidence in the strength of the ice. 

 Getting out of a vehicle is usually relatively easy if you have planned ahead and know what to do.  You only have a minute or so to get it done: often not enough time to figure things out. Click here for more information about getting out of an enclosed vehicle that has broken through the ice.  


Jordan MT, January 26, 2014

Fort Peck Lake.  Red marker is at the Hell Creek Marina in Jordon, MT

A 55 year old fisherman, fell through the ice on Fort Peck Lake.  He and another man were riding ATVs when they both fell through the ice at a pressure ridge. The second man was able to rescue himself but he was not able to rescue his companion in time.  It was about 11:30 PM and they got disoriented trying to get back to their camp in Jordan. In Glasgow MT (about 40 miles away) the temerature at the time of the accident was zero with winds around 10 mph.    

This lake is huge, remote and complicated.  Life jackets, throw ropes, ice claws and daylight might have saved the day. 


 Calhoun GA, January 30, 2014

A 13 year old boy fell through the ice on a private pond.  He was with four friends who were riding ATVs on a powerline access road.  They stopped to look at a frozen pond.  They walked out on the ice. Several of them fell through.  All but one of them were able to get out.  The victim was  under water making him difficult to find. He was in the water for about 40 minutes.  

The pond probably  froze in a cold snap, as late as 24 hours or less before the accident when the wind settled down enough for the pond to catch.  There was enough cold weather to grow roughly an inch of ice-right around the breakthrough thickness for kids this age. 

More on kids and ice. 


Click here for February  2014 reports