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Forum News Service, Published April 02 2014

Young men rescued from floating ice chunk in Mississippi River

BRAINERD, Minn. -- Three young men who thought they were taking a walk along the banks of the Mississippi River found themselves trapped on a floating ice chunk late Wednesday afternoon.

Brainerd firefighters scaled a steep riverbank to reach them, sending out an inflatable banana boat to the men on the ice float. No one was injured.

Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek said the young men, in their late teens or early 20s, apparently were walking on the river’s edge when the ice they were walking on broke off and began drifting in the river.

The ice chunk, estimated to be 15 by 30 feet, got hung up behind some homes.

“One of the people on the ice actually called his mom and his mom called us,” Stunek said.

A homeowner said the river is about 5 feet deep where the ice chunk came to a stop, possibly hung up on tree stumps.

In recent days, the river has opened through the middle, with snow-covered ice clinging to the edges.

“It’s a good reminder about ice conditions,” Stunek said. “A good warning.”

He praised the rescuers’ efforts, noting the men were off the ice in about 10 minutes.