AUSTIN, Minn. - A 6-year-old girl is safe after plunging through the surface of a pond in Austin, Minnesota, but her misadventure stands as a warning about the impact of our recent warm snap on the quality of ice.
First responders were called to Mill Pond around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday after reports of a child who had fallen through the ice near a bridge. The 6-year-old had been walking in the park with her father and the two had agreed to meet on the other side of the pond. Instead the child followed footprints that led out onto the ice and fell through into the frigid water.
An Austin firefighter put on a floatation suit, crawled out onto the ice and was able to pull her from the pond. The child was taken to Mayo Clinic Austin for treatment of hypothermia before being released.
While she is safe, authorities say not all stories end happily. As temps warm people out on ice need to be extra precautious as the thickness and quality of ice wane.
"It's never safe," says Austin Police Chief Brian Krueger, "And in this particular case, she was walking very close to the center concrete pillar of this bridge which I'm sure gathered some heat from the sun shining on it the last couple of days."
Austin Fire was among the emergency personnel that participated in Tuesday night's rescue. Fire officials echo the police chief's sentiment on outdoor safety.
"Any warm weather we have now, the rain will quickly degrade the ice," says Austin Firefighter Timothy Olson, "One day it may seem like it's thick enough for people to be out there, the next day it may not. I would recommend people just stay off the ice this time of year. It's very unpredictable. The time of the year when it's the safest is when we're in the dead of winter, and we're leaving that time of the year."
For more information on ice safety visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.