Grandfather dies, 2-year-old in critical after fall through ice near Alexandria, Minn.

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A 50-year-old man is dead and his 2-year-old grandson is in critical condition after falling through the ice while traveling in a UTV on Lake Andrew near Alexandria, Minn. Tuesday.

The grandfather, James Minnerath, and his grandson, Hayden Minnerath, are both from Alexandria, Minn. It had just snowed 6 inches of fresh powder and Minnerath, a local business owner, was celebrating his 50th birthday.

When they didn't come home in a timely manner, Minnerath's wife called neighbor Brad Brejcha, a retired sergeant with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. Brejcha called 911 and during his own search, saw a crack in the ice and open water. Dive team members arrived on scene and found Minnerath and the 2-year-old submerged in the water. It's unclear how long they were in the water.

"Let's just put it this way, after 33 years of law enforcement, I knew it was obvious what had happened," Brejcha said.

The two were removed from the water and taken by ambulance to the Douglas County Hospital. Hayden was then airlifted to Children's Hospital in the Twin Cities, and Minnerath was airlifted to North Memorial Hospital where he later died.

"My heart goes out to the family. I know them and the rescuers did everything they could. Very proud of the guys and how they responded," Brejcha said.

Family statement

"Our 2-year-old son, Hayden Minnerath, and his grandfather, James Minnerath, of Alexandria, Minn., were involved in a serious UTV accident Tuesday night. Hayden currently is receiving care at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and is listed in critical condition. We are terribly sad to report that James has passed away.

Our family would like to thank the community for its thoughts and well wishes, and request privacy at this difficult time. We will not be releasing any further information to the media about the condition of our son."


Tips for going out on the ice

-People on foot, snowmobiles, or ATVs should use safety precautions such as wearing a life jacket. Be aware that being on the ice involves an increased level of risk

-Driving a vehicle on ice significantly increases your level of risk. Learn about the precautions and dangers involved with this activity. Never drive where you are unfamiliar with conditions, do not drive on/near channels, and do not drive in the dark when it is difficult to see danger areas such as open water.

-The channels of Lake Minnetonka should be avoided. Vehicles, snowmobiles, and people on foot -- should all avoid the channels.

-Remember to keep your dog on a leash. Each year the Sheriff's Office responds to incidents involving pet owners who put themselves in jeopardy chasing after a dog that wandered onto the ice.

-Watch your children who are near bodies of water or ice.

Provided by Hennepin County Sheriff's Office