More Than 11 Rescued from Upper Red Lake

Ken Chase, WDAY/Associate Press contributed
Created: November 14, 2019 10:07 AM

BEMIDJI, Minn. - Sheriff’s officials in northern Minnesota say more than 11 people have been rescued from an ice floe on Upper Red Lake prompting a warning for anglers to stay off the ice this early in the season.
The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office contacted Red Lake area resort owners this week asking for help in keeping people off the ice. Recent cold weather has resulted in the lake beginning to ice over earlier than usual.


WDAY Reporter, Ken Chase spoke with two Bemidji State University students who were fishing on Upper Red Lake when a crack in the ice suddenly grew to a 30 foot opening between them and the shoreline.

"We were kind of stuck out in the middle of the lake," Dan Amundson said. Amundson and Joe Titus said they had heard on social media that the ice was between 7 and 8 inches thick.

"Every indication that we had was that ice was going to be safe to walk on," Amundson said. "Today, actually was a time when big resorts were going to let out ATV's, 4-wheelers, snowmobiles."

But the foot-wide crack they walked over, quickly spread to 30 feet. They were only about 50 yards off of shore, but conditions were too dangerous for them to cross. The group called for help.

"You're still on 8 inches of ice. Which can float a car," Joe Titus told WDAY. "It didn't seem like we were in danger. Everybody was calm."

Rescue crews stood in the water while helping the anglers get across the opening on boats.

Hundreds of people weighed in on social media, questioning the judgement of the fisherman. 

"We all grew up in Minnesota. We've ice fished every single winter and I'd consider myself fairly expereienced when it comes to frozen lakes," Amundson said. "I would've never guessed this would've happened."

Read more from the anglers on WDAY's Inforum.

Sheriff Ernie Beitel says social media posts are exploiting the safety of the ice, when in fact it is not. Beitel says eleven people were rescued from floating sheets of ice Tuesday by Kelliher Fire & Rescue with reports of many others being rescued by local resorts.
He says the sheriff’s office was not contacted.


Ken Chase, WDAY/Associate Press contributed

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