UPDATE: Truck Sinks to Bottom of Lake Minnetonka; Sheriff Issues Thin Ice Warning
Two men narrowly escaped through sinking truck's windows Saturday morning.
What started out as an ordinary Saturday morning on the ice ended with a truck on the bottom of Lake Minnetonka and two area men thankful to be alive.
Blair Walker said he a buddy were driving across Smith Bay just after 11 a.m. when chaos seemed to erupt out of nowhere.
"I was riding passenger in my dad's truck and looking down at the GPS," the 20-year-old Orono resident said. "I looked up and saw some ice that just didn't look right. Before I knew it or could say anything there was water all around the truck."
As the Chevy Silverado began to sink, Walker said he and his friend escaped out of the truck's windows.
"I tried to put the window down as far as I could, but it stopped halfway," he said. "I crawled out, climbed on top of the truck and jumped off onto some good ice."
A group of nearby fishermen quickly sprung into action, assisting the wet and shaken men to a nearby fish house to warm up before calling 9-1-1. First responders reached the bay within minutes.
Walker said he and his friend had been fishing since early Saturday morning and ice thickness was 15 inches in most areas. Sheriff deputies securing the scene said the ice was less than four inches thick where the truck broke through.
"The first thing I said was 'my dad is going to kill me,'" Walker said. "I think right now he's more worried."
Saturday's accident was the second of its kind this season on Lake Minnetonka. A vehicle broke through the ice on Halsted Bay last week. It, too, currently sits on the bottom of the lake.
Owners of vehicles that break through the ice on Minnesota waters are responsible for organizing and paying for salvaging efforts, which typically cost several thousand dollars and must be completed within 30 days to avoid stiff fines. In most cases divers inflate airbags under the wreck, attach a cable and winch the totaled vehicles to shore.
Saturday's accident prompted the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office to issue a thin ice warning.
"These recent incidents are a reminder that the ice thickness is variable due to the warm weather and freezing and thawing that has taken place over the past several weeks," the warning read. "On Lake Minnetonka, there are areas of open water and all channels are extremely dangerous."
Four inches of ice is the recommended minimum thickness for walking and small group activities on ice, and public safety officials say no ice should ever be considered safe.
Additionally, parents and guardians are being warned to keep children away from thin ice.