Winona State University student Ellen Marie "Ellie" Ahmann, 21, died after her car went thought the ice on the Mississippi River in La Crosse.
A captain with the La Crosse Fire Department says they did everything they could when they arrived on scene early Wednseday morning.
Captain Dave Schneider with the La Crosse Fire Department is a 20 year veteran, but he admits these tragedies are hard to deal with.
"We are all affected by it, we all sit there and wonder what we can do to prevent this,” Schneider said.
The La Crosse Fire Department was called to the intersection of Norplex Drive and Jackson Street around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday. They immediately headed out onto the ice.
"We had two people put on our ice rescue suits and take an underwater camera,” Schneider said.
But when they got there, it was already frozen over and they had to use pipe poles to break through the ice.
“The vehicle itself was in about six-to-eight feet of water, probably close to 6 feet of water, but the roof was about only between 2-3 feet from the surface of the water."
Schneider says they consulted with the La Crosse County divers but because of poor weather conditions, both parties knew it was no longer a rescue mission.
“Knowing that there was that much ice formed on top of the vehicle, we figured the vehicle had to of been in the water for a substantial amount of time, longer than what is deemed feasible for a rescue,” Schneider said.
So instead, they searched.
“Our personnel took that underwater camera and searched around the vehicle trying to determine if there were any victims, we did locate one."
Since the accident, Ahmann’s Facebook page has been filled with kind words and memories. One of her friends says Ahmann was funny, respectful, and kind and that she will never be forgotten.
Many remembering a friend and daughter taken too soon. Ahmann was originally from Woodbury, Minnesota.
An autopsy for Ahmann is scheduled for Friday.