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Two Victims Pulled from Icy Waters of Grays Bay Were Trapped for 'Nearly an Hour'

The Sheriff’s Office Dive Team recovered the man from the submerged car and he was flown by helicopter to HCMC. A short time later, the elderly woman was recovered and transported by ambulance to HCMC. Both died Saturday evening.

Update (Feb. 3, 5:10 p.m.): The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office has formally identified the two Maple Grove residents who drowned in Lake Minnetonka Saturday afternoon after their car broke through the ice. Click here for more.

Update (Feb. 3, 10:48 a.m.): Two people have died after their vehicle became submerged in Lake Minnetonka yesterday, Feb. 2. A man in his 30s and an elderly woman, both from Maple Grove, died Feb. 2 at HCMC. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner will release the names of the victims. 

A vehicle broke through the ice underneath the Grays Bay Bridge around 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon—trapping two occupants for nearly an hour according to the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.

Major Darrell Huggett said one victim was transported to the Hennepin County Medical Center via helicopter; the other was taken from the scene by ambulance. Their conditions remained unknown as of this posting.

While identities have not been officially released, both victims are from the Twin Cities area. One is a male in his 30s, the other is an elderly female. The male was the first to call for help, telling emergency dispatchers that he "was sinking."

Related Posts:

  • How This Car Wound Up in Lake Minnetonka
  • Hennepin County Sheriff: 'No Ice Should Ever Be Considered Safe'
  • Baby Dies From Injuries Suffered in Friday Accident on Lake Minnetonka
  • Firefighters Dove In Icy Lake Minnetonka Water to Reach Infant

The first emergency responders reached Grays Bay in approximately six minutes, and several water rescue units arrived shortly thereafter. Dive teams reported both victims were unconcious and not breathing upon reaching the surface.

Exactly why the vehicle was in the area where it went into the water—which was marked by several "thin ice" signs—is unclear, but Major Huggett said the 2006 red Pontiac sedan was heading west under the bridge toward the bigger area of the bay when it broke through the ice.

Water depth under the bridge near where the vehicle broke through is estimated at between eight and 10 feet. Approximately 35 first responders were called to Saturday afternoon's accident. Police and fire units from Wayzata and Minnetonka, at least two helicopters and multiple ambulances—as well as the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office—all responded to the scene.

Eileen Baker, a resident on Grays Bay, said she drove by the scene on her way home from running errands. Upon arrving home, she decided to ski to the site. 

Baker said the people inside the vehicle "still had not been rescued" and estimated the car had been under for "at least 45 minutes."

A total of 14 vehicles, including two Friday night and the one involved in Saturday afternoon's accident, have broken through the ice on Lake Minnetonka this winter. An accident last month resulted in the death of nine-month-old Tabitha Markle. Numerous snowmobiles have also gone through the ice this winter at various locations around Lake Minnetonka.

"The channels are not safe," Major Huggett said. "Our deputies are out everyday marking channels with thin ice signs. We've got a lot of media out there, we've got billboards and we're trying to get the message out that the ices is not safe this year."

Major Huggett went on to say that extreme cold spells, combined with stretches of warm weather, have made ice conditions throughout Hennepin County—and specifically on Lake Minnetonka—unsafe and unpredictable.

Last winter, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek ordered all vehicles off Hennepin County waters following a rash of vehicles breaking through the ice. No such order is anticipated to be given in the near future.

"There is safe ice, but where we are having problems is in the channels and the pressure ridges," Major Huggett said. "Early on we had no snow, which allows people to kind of go wherever they want on the ice, but now with the snow pack it's a little more difficult. We don't have any intentions at this time to close the lakes or the launches."

Lake Minnetonka Patch will have additional updates to this story as further details are confirmed.

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Stephanie Larsen February 03, 2013 at 02:14 AM
When are people going to understand that driving on the lake is never safe? Even after all the recent news, I see a car on Stubbs Bay right now!
Lawrence Baier February 03, 2013 at 02:48 AM
Congratulations Jay on your excellent coverage.
Eric Best February 03, 2013 at 03:48 AM
Great work Jay.
Judy Wartman February 03, 2013 at 07:47 AM
Never ever go through channels with a car !!!!!!!
hwy12goph February 03, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Most of us ice fisherman know not to drive near pressure ridges, narrows and bridges. There are many who can handle driving on the ice without the nanny state telling us what we cannot do. If you are sensationalized by the media's reporting about all of these people going through the ice in bad areas then stay off the lake. I believe every vehicle that has gone through the ice this year was in a channel, under a bridge or driving into a pressure ridge.
Jay Corn February 03, 2013 at 05:35 PM
@hwy12goph: Sheriff's Office says "With the exception of one incident, all of the incidents have taken place on channels or pressure ridges. "
Judy Wartman February 03, 2013 at 06:10 PM
That is absolutely true !!! I know a diver the recovers the cars that go down and it is the power ridges and channel/bridges that they are going in.
hwy12goph February 03, 2013 at 06:20 PM
Thanks for this article Jay. Can you find which incident that is?
John Peterson February 03, 2013 at 07:56 PM
Amen
T.S. Bye February 03, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Any Minnesotan with the slightest bit of common sense knows that you don't drive your car under a bridge on a lake. MN has far too many lakes for Sheriffs Departments to spend all winter blocking vehicle access to changing thin ice locations and remove all blockades again in the spring. Snowmobiles might also hit those chains or ice blocks and die, especially at night. Snowmobiles outnumber cars on most lakes and require much less ice.
georgia February 04, 2013 at 01:16 AM
People need to decide how much money they want to spend on public safety services. The message is loud and strong that people want less government and fewer/lower taxes. You can't pick and choose what you want at a given moment. Budgets are set a year in advance in government just like in corporate America.
Patrick Fitzgerald February 04, 2013 at 01:35 AM
T.S. Bye your 1st statement is false for all those on the lake and they are losing their lives whether from MN or elsewhere. MN officials do the boating channel markers and that does not take all summer nor would it take all winter for blocked chains hooked by the bridges. I agree with your indicating the Snowmobilers needing visibility of the blocks. That is easily addressed by reflective tapes or additional signage on each block. The chains can be kept low and out of way so Snowmobiles can pass over them and thru the bridges when there is sufficient ice.
Orono February 04, 2013 at 08:13 PM
Come on Patrick. Should we also wipe the noses of these idiots? There is a reason these 2 people are dead today. It is not because the Sheriff's department didnt do enough. This guy was 31. This story is nothing but a perfect example of Darwinism.
Tonkaness February 05, 2013 at 12:09 PM
@HennepinWater Patrol - If it takes you an hour to get into the water for a "rescue", its not a rescue any more... "... Authorities said Dietrich and Haram were unconscious and not breathing Saturday when pulled from their submerged red 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix a little less than an hour after dispatchers received a 911 call from Dietrich's cellphone. Stanek said the total rescue time was typical if not better than average. The first responders were at the scene within five minutes of the 911 call and had to assess the incident from a safe area before making a call to the dive team. Most of the divers then had to drive to a storage area in Brooklyn Park to gather their equipment, head to the scene and don the cumbersome protective suits in frigid weather, he said."
Orono February 07, 2013 at 08:35 PM
How about this Patrick: How about we assign each person the wanders onto the lake, make that any lake in the entire state, their very own rescue team. Just in case. Clearly you are related to one of the victims. Never have I ever heard anyone try to blame someone else for the misfortunes of a few idiots. Think about all the resources already used to try and save these people. Think about all the time and effort. Think about the actual first responders and the fact they are risking their own life to save a couple people that couldnt apparently tie their own shoes. Not Patrick, he would prefer to find someone to blame. You are a real class guy! I bet youre really popular.

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