An 80-year-old Brooklyn Center man drowned in Mille Lacs Lake Tuesday after the snowmobile he was a passenger on broke through the ice.
About 5:48 p.m. the Mille Lacs County Sheriff's Office received a report of a snowmobile that went through the ice near Big Point, on the east side of Mille Lacs Lake.
The driver of the snowmobile and son of the victim, a 45-year-old Champlin man, was able to swim to stronger ice, pull himself out of the water and get to a fishing house and eventually to a nearby resort, the sheriff's department reported.
With the sheriff's department, the Mille Lacs Search and Rescue team responded with a Hovercraft and divers. The body was recovered in about 15 feet of water. The Mille Lacs Ambulance Service assisted.
The victim was pronounced dead at Mille Lacs Health System in Onamia.
The name of the victim is being withheld pending an autopsy by the Mille Lacs County Coroner's Office. The results of the autopsy are expected later today.
Mille Lacs County Sheriff Dennis Boser said despite the fatality snowmobilers should be safe when traveling on Mille Lacs Lake as most resorts have reported between 8-10 inches of ice.
"It was one of those situations, it happened to be an unsafe area," said Boser, who advises snowmobilers to use caution when traveling across the ice. "There are no guarantees. Some snow-covered areas may be less safe."
Tuesday's fatality was the year's first ice-related death in Minnesota. Four people died in ice-related drownings in Minnesota in 2001, including a snowmobiler who went under the ice on the Mississippi River in Aitkin County in March. Three people died in ice-related drownings in news.
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