CROSBY, Minn. - An early morning ride on his snowmobile proved deadly Monday for a 34-year-old central Minnesota man.
The Crow Wing County Sheriff says a Crosby Police officer heard cries for help while walking out to his patrol car around 5:30 a.m. The officer looked out across Serpent Lake, thought he saw someone struggling, and summoned first responders.
After locating what appeared to be snowmobile tracks leading into open water a dive team was called in. After hours of searching divers were able to locate 34-year-old Anthony Bjerkness of Ironton and his machine in 45 feet of water.
Investigators determined that the victim had piloted his snowmobile onto the lake from an adjoining road, and traveled approximately half way across the bay before falling through the ice.
"The incident today was a tragic example of what can happen when venturing out on thin ice," Capt. Scott Goddard of the sheriff's office told the Brainerd Dispatch. "Whether traveling by foot, ATV, snowmobile or truck, we must remember that ice is never 100 percent safe. We have a wide range of current ice conditions in our area. Some smaller lakes are reporting 6 and in some areas up to 10 inches of ice while area residents reported the area of Serpent Lake where the snowmobiler when through thin ice (Monday) was open water (Sunday)."
Goddard told KARE 11 Tuesday that conditions were brutal Monday with howling winds causing ice conditions to erode, and the regulators of divers to freeze up. The victim's snowmobile will not be recovered until the ice on Serpent Lake is safe.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds outdoor enthusiasts that ice is inconsistent at this time of year. New, clear ice should be a consistent 4 inches before it is safe for foot traffic, 5 to 7 inches for a snowmobile or ATV, 8 to 12 inches thick for a car or small pickup, and a foot to 15 inches for a larger truck.
For more information on ice safety visit the DNR website.