Iowa Ice Fisherman Survives Crash Through Lake, Trek Back to Shore

   02.10.15

An Iowa angler and his dog are fortunate to be unharmed after a tense situation on Sunday in which the man’s truck fell through the ice in Big Spirit Lake. According to KICD FM, officials say that Sheldon Andrews was fishing near the Stony Point area of the lake when he tried to leave during whiteout conditions. The angler had been using an ice shack on the lake to fish overnight, but heavy snowfall on Saturday made the drive back to shore difficult.

“Because he was so disorientated and all he could see was white, he didn’t know where exactly he was going,” conservation officer Steve Reighard told the Dickinson County News. “He came upon a pressure ridge with his truck and the front of the vehicle went through the ice.”

Andrews and his dog were able to extract themselves from the truck before they were pulled beneath the surface of the lake, but the danger was not over yet. Reighard said that Andrews broke through the ice himself just minutes after leaving the truck and was submerged up to his neck in freezing water. The fisherman was able to drag himself back onto the ice, but quickly broke through again. Andrews was then forced to make the rest of the trip off the lake with frozen clothes and the threat of hypothermia hanging overhead. He needed to find shelter and warmth quickly, although it would be an hour before the angler would make it to shore.

Reighard stated that Andrews was able to reach a vacant cabin, and despite a lack of electricity or heat, the angler was able to change into new clothes. At that point he contacted emergency services, which dispatched an ambulance to pick up Andrews and his dog. Neither suffered any permanent injuries.

Officials warn anglers to exercise proper caution when on the ice, especially in whiteout conditions. Although ice on Big Spirit Lake can be as deep as 16 inches, Reighard added that there is always an element of risk.

“People always ask me where the safe ice is and I never tell anybody there is safe ice,” Reighard told KICD FM.

Being properly prepared with gear such as ice picks and rope, as well as letting others know where you are, can prove invaluable to anglers who enjoy fishing alone.

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