Sheriff warns: Stay off the lake

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

ATV sinks, but rider gets out safe

The snowstorm Sunday caused surprisingly few problems for law enforcement officers, according to Buena Vista County Sheriff Chuck Eddy, but yesterday, he was anticipating that the worst was yet to come.

The worst of his worries wasn't on the county roads, but the soft ice.

"I'm urging people to stay off the lake. We have open water in some places, and the ice that we do have is very unstable," Eddy said.

On Sunday, a Kawasaki ATV that was being used to access an ice fishing site went through the ice.

"The back wheels apparently broke through, and the rider realized what was happening and got off in time," Eddy said, "but now we have to figure out how to get that mule out of the lake."

The rider was uninjured.

There was also a report of a truck on the ice when two of its tires broke through the ice, but that vehicle was apparently removed with no serious problems.

Snowmobiles could be seen traveling on the lake at high speed Monday.

"It just isn't safe to be out there in any form. It's been a strange winter with water staying open in places, and you could almost go out at Bel Air and go boating right now. We just don't know where it will pop through next, and the wind we are expecting to get may open up areas even more." Eddy said.

"The best advice I can give people is not to chance it at all."

The Sunday snowstorm dropped 6-12 inches of snow around the area, but most people handled it quite well, the sheriff said.

"We haven't really had many problems with people in the ditches and so on, and while there was one car-truck accident Monday on Business 71 north of Storm Lake, we didn't have many collisions reported."

For deputies, storm conditions are taken in stride.

"We wear more clothes, and make sure the four-wheel drive vehicles are gassed up, and otherwise it's business as usual," Eddy said.

While the snow makes it slower to run normal patrols, the heavy public use of cell phones has helped in storm conditions, Eddy finds.

"The cell phones make our jobs easier. We get a lot of calls, and we don't have to go looking for people who might be stuck, because they will call us, or others passing by have been very good to call and report when someone needs help," he said.

Eddy also said that the Buena Vista County road crew has done a good job clearing roads quickly after Sunday's snowfall.

"We are expecting the winds to pick up, and with such light snow, we may still have some drifting problems ahead," Eddy said Monday afternoon.

"What I would tell people is that if you think it might not be good conditions to be out, stay home and stay off the roads. It's always best to play it safe."

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