A Deephaven man piloting an ice boat went into the water Saturday near Big Island after breaking through thin ice, according to the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office. He was one of three individuals who broke through the ice on Hennepin County lakes on the final day of 2011.
The Excelsior Fire Department, Wayzata Fire Department, Long Lake Fire Department and the Minnesota State Patrol responded to the Lake Minnetonka incident. The ice boat operator was an adult male from Deephaven and was not injured after making it to shore one his own.
Also on Saturday, two men broke through the ice on Lake Riley in Eden Prairie.
Lake Riley is located in Carver and Hennepin Counties. The men were not injured.
Earlier this week, on Dec. 27, another ice boat on Lake Minnetonka also broke through the ice. Though the boat operator was uninjured, that incident also prompted a response from first responders.
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.
On Lake Minnetonka, there are areas of open water as well.
Four inches of ice is the recommended minimum thickness for walking and small group activities on ice. No ice should ever be considered safe.
Parents and guardians are warned to keep children away from thin ice and remember to keep dogs on a leash this time of year. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has responded to incidents involving pet owners who put themselves in jeopardy chasing after a dog that wandered onto the ice.
For more information about ice safety, the Minnesota DNR has tips online at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice.