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Two pickup trucks fall through ice on Iron Range

NASHWAUK, MN-- What is typically considered the thick of ice-fishing season is panning out to be anything but.

Warmer, wetter weather conditions are making for not the best January ice conditions in parts of the Northland.

An Iron Range family trip turned out to be a scary example of that.

Two pickup trucks were swallowed last week by ice on Blue Lake which is just south of Highway 169 in Nashwauk.

What started off as an ordinary day of ice-fishing for life-long fishing pals, took a turn for the worse. Both of their pick-up truck breaking through the ice and sinking 20-feet into Blue Lake.

"Within a minute it sounded like somebody flushed the toilet and his truck was gone," said Jeff Graves, father of Mason who owns one of the trucks that fell through.

Graves' son's buddy got stuck in the slush on a plowed road. Mason tried to push him out. Unfortunately, both the trucks ended up breaking through the thin ice.

"Slowly watched that second one go in box first and sink all the way down," said Graves.

A plowed road out to their fish house, set up about 2-miles off-shore, gave the two-friends confidence the ice was thick enough to hold their haul. turns out -- it wasn't.

"A two-and-a-half-foot diameter spring coming out there and it was actually eroding the ice as we were trying to mark the area off," said Graves.

A spring, which caused the ice to give-way in a narrow section of the lake. "Everywhere we drilled was 12 to 16 inches even really close to that spring."

Graves assisted his son and called in a dive team out of Detroit Lakes, Tri-State Diving, to remove the vehicles from their icy depths--and they had to act quickly.

He said, "You have 48-hours to report it to the state or the county. And then you have 30-days to remove the vehicle."

Nearly a week submerged in water, the dive team was able to retrieve the trucks after 9-hours, with more than water damage.

"The damage from the big trucks colliding underwater," said Graves.

Everyone involved, taking it as a reminder that there's no such thing as safe ice.

"[The men are] a little skittish of the ice right now. They still do ride snowmobiles and four-wheelers and they actually pulled their fish houses off because they don't even want to deal with it."

Graves said thankfully insurance does cover the removal of the truck but not the damage done while sinking into the lake.

For more on ice-safety click here.

Jessie Slater

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