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Officials identify Bemidji woman who died after ATV goes through ice on Grace Lake

BEMIDJI -- Authorities Monday identified the woman who drowned after an ATV she was riding on went through the ice late Friday night. At 11:54 p.m. Friday night, the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call about two people who broke t...

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BEMIDJI -- Authorities Monday identified the woman who drowned after an ATV she was riding on went through the ice late Friday night.

At 11:54 p.m. Friday night, the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call about two people who broke through the ice while operating an ATV on Grace Lake in northeast Hubbard County, according to a release Monday from Scott Parks, chief deputy with the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office.

The two individuals were later identified as Ethan Oftedahl, 27, rural Bemidji, and Lauren Lund, 23, of Bemidji. After the ATV broke through the ice, officials say Oftedahl was able to get out of the water and call 911 from a nearby residence. Rescue personnel used a hovercraft to find Lund and pull her from the water. She was rushed by ambulance to Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, but live-saving measures were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at the hospital. Oftedahl also was taken to Sanford Bemidji, where he was treated for hypothermia.

Grace Lake straddles Beltrami and Hubbard counties and is about 8 miles southeast of Bemidji just off U.S. Highway 2.

In addition to the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, Leech Lake Police Department, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Cass Lake Fire Department, Lakeport Fire/First Response, Cass Lake Ambulance and Bemidji Ambulance all responded to the scene.

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This winter has been a deadly one on the ice on Minnesota lakes. On Saturday, a Cohasset woman died when the ATV she was riding fell through the ice on a rural Itasca County lake.

The body of Bernice Kane of Cohasset was recovered from the waters of Rice Lake, near Cohasset, on Sunday afternoon. Michael Gibbons of Duluth was able to get out of the water on his own and call for help after the ATV broke through the ice.

On Nov. 27, the bodies of two people -- Melissa Seidenstricker, 29, of Princeton, Minn., and Zeth Knyphausen, 28, of Stacy, Minn.-- were pulled from Upper Red Lake after it is believed their ATV plunged through the ice.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, no ice can ever be considered "safe ice," and the agency says the minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are:

  • 4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.
  • 5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.
  • 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.
  • 12-15 inches for a medium truck.
  • Double these minimums for white or snow-covered ice.

The DNR also says following these guidelines can help minimize the risk:

  • Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure.
  • Check ice thickness at regular intervals - conditions can change quickly.
  • Bring a cell phone or personal locator beacon.
  • Don't go out alone; let someone know the plan and expected return time.
  • Always wear a life jacket on the ice (except when in a vehicle).
  • Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.
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