A man fell through the ice on an underfrozen portion of Libery Lake in the Spokane Valley last Saturday.
The man was riding an ice boat with a sail and runners about 12:30 p.m. when he went out too far. The boat capsized and sank, said Valley firefighter Mark Grover.
“He must have found a thin spot,” Grover said.
When Valley Fire Department crews arrived, the man was already standing on the beach with two other men who apparently rescued him, Grover said.
“He was walking to shore, not hurt or anything,” Grover said.
Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Henderson, a four-year member of the county’s water rescue team, said the team usually responds to three or four incidents of people falling through the ice during an average winter.
But, “the ice has been real fickle” this year, he said. “It was good for a while, but now it’s gone sour again. If there’s any ice on those lakes, it’s real dangerous.”
Already at Liberty Lake this winter, the team rescued a deer that had fallen through the ice. The rescue team was on its way to the lake last Saturday but was told en route that the man was not hurt.
At Newman Lake, a man and his daughter fell through the ice while skating on Jan. 2.
“We’ve been able to see water on the lake for a real long time,” said Liz Adkins, a Libery Lake resident.
Several people were skating on Liberty Lake Saturday, but Grover said the man had gone out farther than the others. Neighbors told paramedics the man had been in the water about 15 minutes.
The man’s rescuers tied a rope to an aluminum boat and slid it out to him, then hauled him back in.
“People get too confident that (the ice) is going to hold them,” Grover said. “People are anxious to get out there on it.”
The sun, water movement and wind all affect the thickness of the ice, Henderson said. Generally, if ice is two inches thick, people can walk on it. At four inches, fishing and skating are OK. At five, it should hold a snowmobile, and between eight and 12, a car, Henderson said.
But, Henderson added, “you just never know. We don’t know where those (thin) spots are going to be.”