'Probably a bad idea': Driver recounts escape after car falls through ice

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Photo credit Scott County Sheriff's Office

          Despite frigid temperatures, authorities are warning of ice safety yet again.

One man learned his lesson the hard way after his Jeep broke through the ice Thursday on O'Dowd Lake in Shakopee, Minnesota.

It was a trip Chet Johnson had made many times before.

“I was actually going to cut over the lake to have dinner with my step mom, and it was a shortcut. I’ve done this a dozen times before in the winter time,” Johnson said.

But this time, Johnson's Jeep went through the ice.

“The water started to pour in from the back and I could feel it start to come my way, and I was still dry and I knew how cold it was,” he said. 

Johnson knew he had to get out - and fast. Luckily, he had opened his window and was able to safely escape.

“I climbed out - Dukes of Hazard kind of thing - I couldn’t open the door because the water was one inch, right up to the base of my window. So, you’re not going to open the door there, you’re just going to climb out,” he said.

The Scott County sheriff’s office responded to the scene and officials were there when the vehicle was pulled out on Friday.

“I was surprised because I’ve seen so many vehicles out here, but not totally surprised because there has been some open water around here,” said Deputy Spencer Autenrieth with the Scott County sheriff’s office. 

Officials say there haven’t been many issues this season with vehicles going through thin ice, but you can never be too cautious before heading out on the lakes.

“You just don’t know from one point to another if you have good ice or bad ice so people take a risk when they come out there,” said Sergeant William Vendel with the sheriff’s department.

One thing is for certain - Johnson is lucky he escaped unharmed.

“Anybody whose vehicle starts to go under the ice, it’s unpredictable…they could go quickly through or slowly through and in this gentleman’s case, it went slowly through and gave him an opportunity to get out of the vehicle,” Vendel said.

Johnson said he’ll eventually venture back out onto the ice, but with a lot more caution.

“I was way off the beaten path and the whole thing was probably a bad idea,” he said.