Snowmobiler dies after going through ice on the St. Croix

  • Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 16, 2013 - 7:59 PM

22-year-old man drove his sled past a sign on the St. Croix near Bayport that warned about thin nice.

A 22-year-old snowmobiler died on Saturday after he went through open water in the ice on the St. Croix River.

A little before noon, a man on a snowmobile was reported to have gone into the river near Point Road in Bayport, which is 1 mile south of Stillwater, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

He was pulled from the water within 20 minutes of the call and taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, according to Chief Deputy Dan Starry with the Washington County Sheriff's Office. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Several law enforcement agencies responded to the scene, including the Bayport Fire Department, the Lower St. Croix Valley Fire Department, the Stillwater Fire Department, the Bayport Police Department, the Oak Park Heights Police Department, the Stillwater Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

The man's identity is likely to be released on Sunday after his family is notified, Starry said.

It appears the snowmobiler had driven into open water, Starry said.

Tracks showed that the snowmobiler went past a thin-ice warning sign, Starry said, adding a warning for those venturing out onto the ice: "Know your surroundings."

While Starry couldn't recall if another snowmobiler had gone into the river this season, Saturday's incident follows several other thin-ice accidents in the metro area in recent months.

Earlier this month, Harland Dietrich, 31, and his grandmother, Mary Ann Haram, 87, were trapped underwater and later died when Dietrich's car broke through thin ice on a channel on Lake Minnetonka.

Two weeks earlier, 8-month-old Tabitha Markle died when her family's SUV broke through another channel on Lake Minnetonka.

In response, authorities reinforced warnings about thin ice on the lake by putting up orange snow fencing around "thin ice" signs near the channels.

Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495; Twitter: @stribnorfleet

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