DNR stresses caution when heading out on the ice - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

DNR stresses caution when heading out on the ice

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HATLEY (WAOW) -

Steve Passehl has been ice fishing on Pike Lake in Hatley for more than 25 years. But, this was the first time he's seen the dangers of thin ice firsthand.

"I saw the back end go in and I wanted to get off so I didn't see the front end fall through," Passehl explained.

DNR officials say an SUV broke through the ice on Pike Lake and sank straight to the bottom.

"Two gentleman were going out ice fishing and they noticed the ice was breaking through," Conservation Warden Ben Herzfeldt said. "They were able to get out and most of their equipment out before it went down."

Minutes later, Passehl had a similar experience.

"I went to get some bait and I came back and the back end of my truck fell through," Passehl said.

But, luckily for him, he made it to shore.

"I knew there wasn't that much ice so I decided to gun it and get back up on top."

DNR officials say while temperatures have been relatively cold, recent snowfall has actually worsened ice conditions by acting as an insulator. That's why they urge everyone to test the ice before heading out.

"You should drill test holes all the way out to where you are going to make sure the ice is safe," Herzfeldt said.

And after a close call, Passehl said he's learned his lesson.

"I'll be drilling holes all the way out from now on, that's the smart thing to do," he said.

DNR officials couldn't agree more. They say everyone heading out on to the ice should make safety their number one priority.

As for the owner of the SUV, DNR officials say the vehicle is submerged in about 12 feet of water. They say he has 30 days to remove the SUV from the lake or he could face serious fines.

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