A pair of snowmobilers in East Bethel had to learn the same cold lesson twice on Sunday — thin ice is no joke.
The men were snowmobiling on Coon Lake when one man fell through the ice on his snowmobile. After calling 911 initially about 2:25 p.m., the man emerged safely on his own and canceled the call, though a deputy checked on him anyway, said Sgt. Eric Herschberger of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.
About two hours later, a second emergency call came in involving the same people at the same spot, Herschberger said.
Trying to retrieve the lost snowmobile, the men slid a canoe across the ice. They somehow ended up in the frigid water again, probably when the boat capsized.
Both the East Bethel fire and rescue team and Sheriff’s Office representatives arrived. Between the two agencies, seven people donned special suits and dove in to help, Herschberger said.
The first man was rescued relatively quickly but the other went under and wasn’t visible, Herschberger said. He was submerged 10 minutes before rescuers pulled him out.
The more critically injured man was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), while the first man was transported to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.
Herschberger said both men’s conditions are unknown, though the man treated locally was well enough to explain what happened. HCMC wouldn’t release the condition of the man taken there.
Luckily, the rescuers weren’t hurt, Herschberger said.
“There’s a lot of personal risk when these guys have to put these suits on and go out there,” Herschberger said. “It’s dangerous.”
Herschberger repeated the obvious lesson of the day: “The ice is no longer safe,” he said. “There’s open water, it’s way too warm.”
Both Hennepin and Chisago counties performed similar rescues Sunday, Herschberger said, and a puppy was saved in Anoka County after it fell through the ice last week.