A Breezy Point woman's fishing trip Monday morning was cut short after her pickup broke through the ice on Pelican Lake.
Fortunately, Mary Cuffe's pickup broke through in 4 feet of water and she was able to get out uninjured, walk back to shore and call for help on her cell phone.
Cuffe's pickup went through the ice about 8:49 a.m. about 40 feet out from Stewart's Bay public access on the north end of Pelican Lake. Cuffe declined to discuss her ordeal when reached by phone Monday afternoon.
Crow Wing County Sheriff's Sgt. Chad Paulson said holes augered through the ice in the area where Cuffe's pickup went through showed as much as 18 inches of ice, proving just how unpredictable frozen lakes can be this time of year.
"People need to use extreme caution when venturing out on the ice this time of year," Paulson said. "If you do venture out on the ice, stay to well-traveled areas. It's when you venture into unknown areas, where people haven't been, that bad things can happen."
The DNR recommends not driving onto the ice whenever possible, especially considering the poor ice conditions created by snow and slush in the past two weeks.
At least 4 inches of clear new ice is recommended by the DNR for foot travel, five inches minimum for ATV and snowmobile travel and 8-12 inches for cars and small trucks.
The DNR also recommends checking for known thin ice areas with a local resort or bait shop; testing the thickness yourself using an ice chisel, ice auger or even a cordless drill with a long bit. Carry ice picks, where a floatation device (except in a vehicle) and don't drink alcohol.
If you must drive a vehicle, be prepared to leave it in a hurry - keep windows down, unbuckle your seat belt and have a simple emergency plan of action you have discussed with your passengers.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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