An Apple Valley couple died over the weekend when their snowmobile went through the ice on a northwestern Wisconsin lake.
Searchers pulled the bodies of Timothy and Kimberly O'Brien from the frigid waters of Webb Lake in Burnett County Sunday morning, said Mark Little, a safety specialist warden with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The couple, who were on the same snowmobile, is believed to have gone through thin ice around 9 p.m. Saturday, Little said.
Webb Lake is about two hours northeast of the Twin Cities.
The O'Briens — Timothy, 57, and Kimberly, 56 — had dinner with family members and friends at a bar and were returning to their cabin when their snowmobile hit a pocket of open water along the southwest shore of the lake, said Webb Lake Fire Chief Mike Hemquist. The department got a call about "two missing snowmobilers" around 11:30 p.m. Saturday when the O'Briens had not made it back to their cabin. Searchers looked for them for about three hours without success.
They returned to the lake Sunday morning when a firefighter saw helmets bobbing in the water. Hemquist was on the scene and helped pull the bodies out. Both snowmobilers were still wearing their helmets, boots and gloves when they were found, he said.
The incident is still under investigation, but Hemquist said it is possible the couple may have gotten confused. He said it appeared as if the couple had turned around because their tracks took them right into the open water.
"This is not a good start to our snowmobiling season," Hemquist said.
Wisconsin DNR officials had just announced Friday that riding trails in Burnett County opened after being closed for a few days following rain.
"This was a tragic incident and our sympathies go out to the family and friends of those lost," Little said.
Services for the couple will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Church of the Risen Savior, 1401 County Road 42, Burnsville. Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at White Funeral Home, 14560 Pennock Av., Apple Valley.