There's been no January thaw to speak of, but that hasn't kept vehicles from crashing through Mississippi River ice.
For the second-straight weekend, anglers watched a pickup truck sink to the bottom of Lake Pepin. Goodhue County Sheriff's deputies said Wilson, Wis., resident Wayne Schmitt was driving his 2008 Dodge truck loaded with three passengers Sunday afternoon when the incident occurred. He was driving from the Wisconsin side to Methodist Point, just north of Florence Beach.
The truck came to rest in about five feet of water. Ice fishermen came to the group's rescue, according to initial reports.
All four occupants -- plus a dog -- escaped safely, same as the previous weekend when a Dennison, Iowa, man's pickup truck plunged through the ice in the same area.
Goodhue County deputies who know the waters said that's not a coincidence.
Sgt. Kris Johnson said the current runs directly into a sandbar extending off the point. When frozen, the effect creates a pressure ridge that is dangerous no matter how cold the air temperature gets.
"It's never safe, even when it's cold," Johnson said, adding that warm water released from Prairie Island nuclear plant also can destabilize Lake Pepin ice.
He said the best approach for would-be ice travelers is to keep your eyes open, especially for signs warning of thin ice. A large sign at Florence Beach warns of dangerous ice; more signs had been posted Jan. 22 surrounding the pressure ridge.
Johnson recommended that people unfamiliar with the area ask before venturing out on the ice.
"If there's no one to ask, just don't go," he said.