A Minnesota boat charter operator died January 12 when his truck broke through the ice and sunk. Other anglers found the body of 80-year-old Richard “Dickie” Gadbois floating in a lifejacket, moved him to shore and called 911. 

Lakeland PBS reports the accident happened at Mille Lacs Lake in central Minnesota about two hours from Minneapolis. Mille Lacs is the second largest inland lake in the state and offers year-round recreation.

According to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, walleye and northern pike are popular catches in the wintertime on Mille Lacs and other Minnesota lakes. Temporary villages pop up annually on the area’s frozen lakes, with ten percent of the state’s 1.5 million licensed anglers fishing through ice in what is usually considered safe winter recreation. 

Mille Lacs Lake, in particular, is known for freezing thick by mid-December with the potential to be iced three-feet deep. But it was only six inches thick where Gadbois died. It has to be more than 13-inches thick to hold a vehicle.

“This is another reminder to the public that ice conditions are not safe for driving cars and trucks on right now,” Mille Lacs County Sherriff’s Office stated in a news release. “The ice on many lakes across the state is not good, clear ice due to rains and warm temperatures.” 

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Minnesota Public Radio reports three other people were injured on ice around the same time as the recent fatality. A teenage boy on a snowmobile sunk on Little Rock Lake in Benton County, and two men in a UTV on broke through ice on Upper Red Lake in Beltrami County. 

Additionally 122 people were stranded on an ice sheet at the end of December on Upper Red Lake. According to CBS News they all had to be rescued after the ice they were fishing on separated from shore leaving 30 feet of open water between their shacks and safety.