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Forum News Service, Published December 03 2013

Rural Detroit Lakes man escapes, dog dies as pickup breaks through lake ice

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - A rural Detroit Lakes man escaped but his dog died Sunday when a pickup truck when through ice on Rock Lake.

Stephen Sperl, 49, was driving a 1998 Toyota Tacoma about a half-mile from shore when the truck broke through near what authorities believe was a pressure ridge. Ice thickness near pressure ridges can vary greatly.

The Becker County Sheriff’s Office said Sperl and his black lab were going ice fishing when the truck broke through about 7:40 a.m. Sunday. He jumped out, but the dog didn’t follow. Before he could reach the dog, the pickup sank in about 16 feet of water.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges people to use caution when venturing onto a frozen lake or pond. Four inches is the recommended thickness for walking on ice, but water safety specialist Kara Owens said the ice coverage varies around the state.

At least 5 inches of lake ice is recommended for snowmobile or ATV use.

Eight to 12 inches is recommended for a car or small pickup, while 12 to 15 inches is recommended for a medium truck.