Ice-related death toll rising in Minnesota

This winter season is on track to be the deadliest on the ice in more than five years, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said in a news release Friday.

So far this winter, five people have died after going through the ice in Minnesota. A sixth person is missing and presumed drowned.

That’s the most deaths from going through ice since the winter of 2006-2007, when ason, eight people died in ice-related incidents.

“There could be several reasons why so many people have died this year,” said Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist. “It could be there are more people out on the ice because we have had a cooler winter and more snow.”

All the fatalities this winter involved a snowmobile or vehicle either crashing into open water or breaking through the ice.

The highest number of ice-related deaths in Minnesota winter occurred in the winter of 1982-83, when 22 people died. Sixteen ice-related deaths occurred in the winters of 1979-80 and again in 1980-81, according to DNR figures.

As the winter starts to wind down and Minnesotans enter the last weekend in February, Owens has an urgent message for winter enthusiasts: “The bottom line is it’s crucial that people do not let their guard down and recognize ice is never 100 percent safe.”

Here’s a list of ice-related fatalities by winter season:

2012-2013…..6*

2011-2012….. 4

2010-2011…. 4

2009-2010…..1

2008-2009….2

2007-2008….3

2006-2007….8

* Including one person missing

The DNR recommends anyone heading out on the ice should measure the ice thickness and contact a local bait shop or resort about area ice conditions. For information on the DNR clear ice thickness recommendations go to, http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/thickness.html.

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