Ice Fishing Fatality Highlights Dangers of Thin Ice - FOX 18 Quad Cities News and Weather

Ice Fishing Fatality Highlights Dangers of Thin Ice

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A son is without his father this weekend, after a family fishing trip turned deadly. The two were at Sabula Lakes when they both fell through the ice.

Jackson County officers responded Friday afternoon, transporting the two to a Clinton hospital.

18-year-old Jacob Kerkhoff was treated for his injuries and released. His father, 65-year-old Ronald Kerkhoff, died at the hospital.

We still don't know how they fell through the ice, but it is a sad reminder of the real danger of ice that can look safe, even when it is not.

Only two weeks ago, we saw people out on lakes covered with five inches or more of ice, and ready for ice fishing.

Then, unseasonably warm weather hit - thinning the ice that had been building up for weeks.

"With the weather the way that it's been - warming up and then getting cold - it can cause the top layer to be kind of mushy. It can be misleading on how thick the ice could be or how stable the ice could be," Laura Petreikis, a Conservation Officer with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, explained.

All of that can spell disaster.

Officers pointed out that it can not only thin the ice, but it can also cause gaps of ice in different locations out on the water.

Some spots thaw out and then freeze again -- meaning, just below the surface, there are patches of water, and that makes the ice unsafe to walk on.

It is also important to remember that ice on a pond or lake typically is thicker than on a river, like the Mississippi.

"There are people who fish the backwaters of the Mississippi and that can be very safe depending on the thickness of the ice, but the river versus the pond - you're going to have a current and it's going to be deceiving on how thick the ice might be, and it may appear that it's safe to walk on, but the underside isn't as safe," Petreikis said.

She says you need consistent cold weather before going out on the ice.

You also need to check ice thickness before you go. Look for at least four inches of ice before fishing.

And, last but not least, carry ice picks. That way if you fall in, you can drive the picks into the ice and pull yourself out.


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