Car submerged in water is cautionary tale for ice safety

Man escapes sinking car at Stoddard boat landing

Rescue units were called to the Stoddard Boat Landing at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday. A man called 911 after escaping unharmed from his car that was sinking into the river. He was trying to drive out to his ice fishing spot.

The La Crosse Dive Unit assisted with recovering the car. “The ice is only a couple inches deep thick in that area, so the person that went through is lucky he didn’t go down in the car, because that would’ve been a bad, a lot worse probably, outcome that what we are having right now,” says Kevin Kappauf, a training officer for the La Crosse Dive Unit.

Officials do not want this accident to keep anyone from enjoying the outdoors; they just ask people to take the necessary precautions.

“On the shore side, there was about 2 inches of ice, on the other side of the hole there was about 6 inches of ice, so that ice can vary and that shoreline does vary quite a bit,” says Brian Haydysch, 1st Assistant Fire Chief for the Stoddard-Bergen Fire Department.


That’s especially true near the Stoddard boat landing where two artesian wells pump water that is 48-52 degrees into the river. There are also undercurrents that deteriorate the ice.

“That area where the car went through, you can see that there had been melting or a spring or something where the ice was bad,” says Kappauf.

The Wisconsin DNR never recommends going on the ice. But rescue officials on scene say you’re probably okay walking on the ice as long as it’s at least 4 inches thick and if you have someone with you.

Before you trek onto the ice, make sure you have everything to do so safely. “An ice bud for checking the ice, because it can vary, the float coat or a life jacket and picks of life is what these are for if you do happen to go in the water, you can potentially get yourself back out,” says Haydysch.

“If you have any gut feelings or anything that you just don’t think is right or you shouldn’t be there, you probably shouldn’t,” says Kappauf.