Lake Ice fatalities on North American ice: March and April 2015
March 2, 2015 Wichita KS: A woman was walking beside Chisholm Park Lake when her dog (off leash) ran out onto the ice toward another dog on the other side of the lake. The woman went out after the dog and broke through in about the middle (roughly 100-140 ft off shore?). One person on shore tried to help the victim but they could not get close enough. The victim sank and was recovered by divers in 8 feet of water. The dog did not survive. There is a pretty good chance that if the woman had stayed on shore the dogs would not have broken through on their own.
It looks like the ice went out on February 25th in 57 degree weather. Also on the 25th there were high winds for about10 hours with gusts to 50.The ice probably came back in on the 27th. There were approximately 20 freezing degree days before the accident which might have grown 1.5 inches of ice.
The temperatures were around 32 for a few hours before the accident. It was partly sunny which may have weakened the ice. The sun is pretty strong in early March in Wichita.
There was a non fatal rescue in East Wichita of a woman who went on the ice after her dog two days after the above incident. Fire fighters were able to rescue her with throw bags after she had been in the water for about 10 minutes. The dog also survived. Warm weather had significantly degraded the ice between the two accidents.
March 4, 2015 Alexandria MN: A 50 year old man and his 2 year old grandson were in a Polaris ATV (with a cab) on Lake Andrew. Both people apparently were able to escape the ATV. The grandson survived for about 4 weeks.
They broke through a weak spot in the snow covered ice. It may have been a folded ridge which can be hard to spot. It was cold for the two weeks before the accident so ice thawing was not an issue.
March 7, 2015 Creston IA: Three fishermen (68, 71, 73) failed to return from an afternoon of fishing on a farm pond. A person who went looking for them found their gear on the ice and a hole about 20 feet from shore.
Temperatures on the 6th and 7th both hit 55 degrees. Winds were in the upper teens both days and they were clear. In addition, ponds often loose ice from underneath when the sun becomes strong and warms the underlying water.
Speculating, the closeness to shore suggests one man walked on the ice first and broke through. This is probably a case of one person falling though and the others falling in trying doing so trying to rescue the victim(s). Claws, throw ropes, flotation and test poles would have probably saved the day.
March 7, 2015 Denton Twp MI: A 31 year old snowmobile rider crashed his sled at around 11:15 PM on Houghton Lake about 600 feet from shore.
Speed and alcohol were probably factors in the crash.
March 13, 2015 Sidney OH: A mother (39) and child (3) drowned when the child decided to walk on a residential pond. The mother went in to save him and was successful at getting him onto the ice but was unable to get herself back on the ice. The ice looked well thawed in the pictures. High temperatures were in the 40's and 50's for several days running up to the accident.
A couple suggestions for people living near frozen water: Make sure 911 is called before any rescue effort is started.
Have at least a flotation ring with rope on the pond and maybe ice rescue equipment (ice claws and life jacket, ice type throw bag)
March 13, 2015 Duluth MN: A male snowmobile rider was riding with a passenger on Pequaywan Lake at about 9:30 PM. They were both thrown off the sled and the operator died.
March 16, 2015 Naples NY
A man (34) was walking a dog near a pond at about 1:00 AM. The dog went onto the ice and broke through. The man elected to go in after the dog. The dog got out on his own and the man perished.
Temperatures had been above freezing most of the time for the previous 8 days. The day of the accident reached the mid 50's and there was full March sun.
This is another example of why dog rescue goes wrong so often. If a dog broke through it is very likely it is too weak to support a person.
April 1 2015 Bathurst Island INV: Two Dutch scientists were doing field work on how arctic ice sheets melt. They both died when the ice they were traveling across became too thawed. Their equipment and sled dog was found but the men were not. They were working about 200 km south of Bathurst Island in the Canadian Arctic.
April 4, 2015 Ottawa ONT: Two men decided to take a walk on the Outaouais River at about 10:30 PM. The ice collapsed and both men fell into the river. One was rescued and the other couldn't be found.
The day of the accident was around freezing and windy. Temperatures on April 2nd and 3rd hit 60 degrees with lots of sun.. There was no sustained below freezing weather for 11 days before the accident. Spring ice is often much weaker than cold winter ice. River ice is always tricky and is especially so when its feed water is getting above freezing.