Steve Erdahl and his dog Chewy were out for a walk early Tuesday evening and on their way back home when they suddenly found themselves in the middle of an emergency.
“We walked to Big Island, and the sun was just setting,” Erdahl said. “We got up by the yacht club and this guy goes by me relatively fast in an SUV doing about 30.“
A pressure ridge formed near the yacht club about three weeks ago and extends out into the bay about 300 yards. Signs mark the dangerous ice—as do several holes where cars have already gone in this winter.
Erdahl said the driver slowed down to about 10 mph when he reached the channel area. The next thing he knew, the Honda was half submerged—nose down—in the water.
“One second you’re walking on the ice with your dog without a care in the world, and the next you’re wondering if I’m going to have to jump in and rescue this guy,” Erdahl said.
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The driver had managed to climb out the rear hatch of the vehicle just as Erdahl reached the site.
“He was dazed,” Erdahl said. “I asked him if the airbag went off, and he said ‘no.’ He wasn’t hurt.”
The driver actually climbed back into the sinking vehicle to retrieve an item from the driver’s side floorboard.
“It started to sink and dropped a foot,” Erdahl said. “I was hollering for him to get out. I gave him a hand, and he climbed out. He was OK. He was dry.”
Erdahl went home to get his camera. When he returned the vehicle had sunk another foot.
"I don't think it was being held up by the bottom," Erdahl said. "I think it's the ice that it's caught up on."
The vehicle was not visible Wednesday morning, and one man in the area said it had been towed out Tuesday night.
More than 15 vehicles have gone through the ice on Lake Minnetonka this winter at various locations. Almost all of the accidents have occurred near channels or pressure ridges. Three people have been killed this season in thin ice related incidents—including two people over the weekend and a nine-month-old infant last month.