LAKE PEPIN, Minn. – Every year, officials warn that ice is never 100% safe. That rang true Saturday morning when six vehicles fell through the ice on Lake Pepin.
From experienced anglers like Brock Smith who fishes twice a week, to new anglers, the fish are biting and the crowds are back too. On Saturday Smith said the parking lot was full so drivers started parking on the lake near the shore. He watched from afar as six vehicles fell through the ice and had to be reeled in by emergency crews. No one was injured, the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office said.
The DNR says vehicles should park at least 50 feet apart and move them every two hours, to avoid sinking.
"I felt bad for them! I mean it could happen to anybody, they didn't know they weren't supposed to park out there," Smith said.
Smith said he parked in the same location as the sunken vehicles just last weekend.
"But then someone parked next to me so I came back and moved my truck and did the long walk to my parking spot so that could have been my truck out there," he said.
Lake Pepin is a naturally occurring lake on the Mississippi River. After seeing people fall through over the years, Smith hopes the county will add more signage indicating where the natural spring are, and where the ice is likely to be thin.
"The season really is always like this. That's why you see a lot of foot traffic and four wheelers and we all wish and wait for us to be able to drive out there," he said.
The DNR says you need at least 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV, 8-12 inches for cars or a small truck, and 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck. The thickness should be doubled if the ice is covered in snow.
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