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Woman dies after ATV goes through ice near Bemidji

BEMIDJI—A woman drowned and a man survived after the ATV they were riding went through the ice on Grace Lake early Saturday, Dec. 16.

According to the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office, the pair went through the ice just after 12 a.m.

Saturday. Grace Lake straddles Beltrami and Hubbard counties and is about 8 miles southeast of Bemidji just off U.S. Highway 2.

Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes said the incident occurred on the southeast side of the lake, which falls under Hubbard County jurisdiction. He confirmed that the pair were riding an ATV and that it went through the ice. The woman died in the incident, and the man survived. He said names of those involved and more details of the incident would be released Monday.

Aukes said another ATV went through the ice on Saturday morning on Island Lake, which is about 12 miles north of Park Rapids off U.S. Highway 71. That person survived the fall through the ice.

Saturday's death comes six days after a couple from Park Rapids were rescued after their ATV went through the ice on Little Sand Lake in Hubbard County. Jason Funk, 46, was airlifted to a Fargo hospital with hypothermia conditions, while his wife, Holly Funk, 41, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Park Rapids and later released. Little Sand Lake is about seven miles northeast of Park Rapids.

And, on Nov. 27, the bodies of two people—Melissa Seidenstricker, 29, of Princeton, Minn., and Zeth Knyphausen, 28, of Stacy, Minn.-- were pulled from Upper Red Lake after it is believed their ATV plunged through the ice.

Multiple agencies have issued warnings about ice safety on area lakes. Aukes said Saturday that the warmer temperatures have not been conducive for the lakes to constantly be making ice.

"The issue is it is too early, and for the type of weather, to have consistent ice," he said.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, no ice can ever be considered "safe ice," and the agency says the minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are:

• 4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.

• 5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.

• 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.

• 12-15 inches for a medium truck.

• Double these minimums for white or snow-covered ice.

The DNR also says following these guidelines can help minimize the risk:

• Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure.

• Check ice thickness at regular intervals — conditions can change quickly.

• Bring a cellphone or personal locator beacon.

• Don't go out alone; let someone know the plan and expected return time.

• Always wear a life jacket on the ice (except when in a vehicle).

• Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

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