Timely thin ice warning as ATV breaks through Bald Eagle Lake

The Ramsey County sheriff’s office water patrol says looks can be deceiving. The ice is five inches thick in some parts and only half an inch in others, and it's this inconsistency, that makes it unsafe for any type of vehicle to be on the ice right now.

The sounds of a whirling propeller and cracking ice shattered the tranquility and early morning calm on Bald Eagle Lake on Sunday morning in White Bear Lake Township.

Neighbor Cathy Gjerde says a little before 8 a.m., she saw rescue crews pull three men to safety on the northeast side.

“They obviously don't know the lake very well, and didn't know it was open last week because you can tell by their path they went right into the thin part,” she said.

Sgt. Eric Bradt says the men were on their way to ice fish when their Argo ATV broke through the ice about 125 yards from shore. No one fell into the freezing water.

“They were more worried about their fish cameras and 20 pound propane heaters and stuff, and we told them, ‘Let's first get you to safety,’” Sgt. Bradt said.

The vehicle is designed to float, it had eight wheels on it, but they still needed help getting back. Authorities are asking their identities remain concealed, but they were examined on-scene and released.

The Department of Natural Resources recommends at least five inches of thick ice for ATVs and snowmobiles but because of the warm winter so far, Sgt. Bradt says ice thickness on the lake is inconsistent and varies from spot to spot.

“It's not safe on any waterways right now,” he said.