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Snowmobilers rescued from Lake Koshkonong

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
February 20, 2008
— Two men were “very cold and very wet” after being rescued from Lake Koshkonong on Tuesday morning, when their snowmobiles broke through the ice and fell into the water.

Authorities identified the men as Daniel Nelson, 65, Beloit, and his son, Gregory Nelson, 43, Darien.


The men told rescuers they had been following marked snowmobile trails to Charlie Bluff and intended on locating the trail again on the north side of the lake.


They were unable to find a trail on the lake and inadvertently drove onto thin ice near the mouth of the Rock River, according to a sheriff’s department news release.


Both men managed to pull themselves out of the water and onto the ice where they waited for rescuers.


Chris Lukas, deputy chief for the Milton and Milton Township fire departments, said the men were very lucky because the air temperature was only a couple degrees above zero, and the wind chill was in the double digits below zero when the accident happened at 10:59 a.m.


Both were checked for injuries by Milton EMS and released, he said.


“They had a lot of things go right for them. The biggest was that it happened during the day when they were easy to spot and easier to get to,’’ Lukas said.


Oftentimes, accidents like this happen at night and when people are not familiar with the lake, which was the case today, Lukas said.


Even when people are from here, he said, “things look a lot different in the middle of the night and you can get going in the wrong direction.’’


The area where the snowmobiles broke through the ice is near the mouth of the Rock River, where the thickness of the ice can be 12 to 18 inches thick in one place and only a couple inches thick a few feet away, Lukas said.


“It’s nothing new, and typically, we have somebody go in there about once every winter,’’ Lukas said.


Rock County Sheriff’s Department deputies and its water rescue and dive teams responded with Milton Fire and EMS and Milton Township police to the water rescue in the 1700 block of East Road Nine in Mallwood, Milton Township, just east of Newville, on Lake Koshkonong after someone reported seeing two snowmobiles break through the ice and into the lake about 100 yards off shore.


About 10 minutes later, two people were reported to be out of the water and on the ice, but still on the lake.


A pair of firefighters, in rescue suits, tried approaching the men but kept falling through the ice, which was only a couple inches thick, Lukas said.


But moments later, members of the Milton Fire Department Ice Rescue team were able to get close enough to the victims to throw them a rope and pull them to safety, according to authorities.


The snowmobiles will remain in the lake until they can be safely removed.



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