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DNR warns people to stay off the ice

This comes after four reports of water rescues in DeKalb and Noble counties in the last week.

Posted: Jan 21, 2019 9:10 PM
Updated: Jan 21, 2019 10:12 PM

HAMILTON, Ind. (WFFT) - The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is encouraging people to stay off icy lakes and ponds.

This comes after four reports of water rescues in DeKalb and Noble counties in the last week.

Safety ice fishing tips from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

1. Drill your own test hole near shore. Your test hole should show at least a four-inch thickness of clear ice like you get from your freezer.

2. Wear a life jacket for extra warmth and safety.

3. Be aware of various ice strengths and qualities. One area of a pond may be a foot thick while another spot of ice may only be an inch thick.

4. Ice strength can also change. Thick ice is rotten after rain. Old honey-combed ice, slush ice or ice with current under it is also dangerous. New ice is almost always stronger that old ice. Wind, waterfowl and beavers can also keep areas of ice thin.

5. Indiana law limits ice fishing holes to a diameter of twelve inches.

6. Fishing shanties must have reflectors on each side so snowmobiles won't crash into them at dusk or during snowstorms.

The latest call came Sunday for two people on Crooked Lake in Noble County.

Both were able to get out of the ice before help arrived.

However, not everyone was as fortunate.

Saturday, conservation officers said Robert Penland, 45, died after falling into the ice at Terry Lake in Hamilton.

People in town said this should be a wake up call.

"When you hear of a guy that everybody knew in town, word is stay off the ice," said Chris Albin.

Albin said she only enjoys the lake life in the summer.

"That's my biggest fear. Why would you go out there in case you drown in frozen water? I wouldn't want to. It's not safe," Albin said.

That's why conservation officers said you shouldn't go on the ice.

"Realize we have not had a consistent streak of cold weather that has been adequate for the lakes to freeze," said Sgt. Patrick Heidenreich, IDNR conservation officer.

However, people are still venturing out to ice fish.

"They are all out there in the cove. That's the first thing I see, seven or eight of them sitting there Saturday," Albin said.

Wednesday, former DeKalb County commissioner Randy Deetz fell into one of his ponds.

He had a rope nearby to help him out.

Heidenreich says taking those extra precautions can make a big difference between life and death.

"If you do go through the ice, just realize that it is going to be a total shock to your system once you are submerged in the cold water. Hypothermia can set in very quickly," he said.

Albin hopes others will take notice and stay off the frozen lakes.

"I think we all felt that. You just don't test it that soon," she said.

The city of Fort Wayne will let people know when the ice is safe.

At its parks around town there are red flags and red lights letting you know the ice is not safe and you need to stay off.

If the flag is down and the light is off you are allowed on the ice.

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