Minnesota Records Year’s Second Ice Fishing Fatality After Snow Bus Crashes Through Ice: REPORT

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John Oyewale Contributor
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A commercial snow bus crashed through ice Thursday morning in Lake of the Woods in northwestern Minnesota during an ice fishing run, killing one passenger, according to several reports.

Divers recovered the male victim’s body in around 10 feet of water in the Northwest Angle — the northern side of the lake — around seven hours after the crash, the Lake of the Woods County Sherrif’s Office said in a press release, Minnesota’s Star Tribune reported. The Bombardier snow bus sank rear-end first through 12-inch-thick ice to the bottom of the lake, Paul Colson, owner of Jake’s Northwest Angle Resort, told the Star Tribune. The bus’s driver reportedly helped rescue the other passengers.

“I was expecting to find thin ice but I found a foot of ice all around the machine,” Colson told the Star Tribune. “You’d be hard-pressed to find better ice anywhere in Minnesota right now.”

The Northwest Angle is the northernmost point in the Lower 48 states, according to CBS Minnesota. (RELATED: Woman Swept Away Under Ice After Jumping Into River To Save Family Dog)

“Temperatures are finally starting to drop…but that doesn’t mean that the ice conditions are going to be ready for people to go out this weekend,” Nicole Biagi, Ice Safety Coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), warned in a video statement Thursday. “It’ll be a while, several consecutive days, for the ice to finally form a new, clear layer underneath, and people need to wait and be patient for that.”

Ice nine to 12 inches thick can support a car, according to the MDNR ice thickness recommendations. However, if the ice is white, rather than clear, then the recommendations should be doubled, Biagi added.

The fatality is the second reported in Minnesota this ice fishing season, the Star Tribune reported. Jerry Keith Buhr, 67, of Osage, reportedly was found with his all-terrain vehicle (ATV) around four to five feet deep in the lake Dec. 23 after having failed to return from a fishing trip the day before.

Three men were rescued unhurt after breaking through the ice in their ATV in the Upper Red Lake, about 90 miles south of Lake of the Woods, Dec. 21, Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. Two men were able to get out the water Thursday after having fallen in.