BAYPORT, Minn. — Law enforcement officials in Washington County are warning residents about driving on frozen lakes and rivers after an SUV fell through the ice and sank to the bottom of the St. Croix River on Saturday night, Jan. 16.
Two men from Waseca, Minn., were in the 2006 Dodge Durango when it started to sink in the St. Croix River near Bayport around 11:30 p.m., said Chief Deputy Doug Anschutz of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. The men, including the 48-year-old driver, were able to jump to safety after the front of the vehicle went through the ice, he said.
“It sank within one to two minutes of them getting out of it,” Anschutz said.
The men had been fishing north of the “Ice Road,” a popular road on the ice-covered river that leads from Ferry Landing in North Hudson, Wis., to Hubs Landing near the Bayport Marina, and were driving south back to the “Ice Road” when the Durango went through the ice, he said.
Under Minnesota law, the owner has 30 days to get the Durango out of the river. If it is not removed, the local unit of government can remove it and charge the owner two to five times the cost of removal, according to state law.
Mild weather has caused unsafe ice conditions this winter, Anschutz said.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office posted a warning on its Facebook page on Jan. 17.
“Please avoid driving your vehicle on the ice,” officials said. “Ice conditions have been poor and thicknesses vary greatly throughout the area.”