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3 escape unharmed after SUV falls through ice

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:53:52 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 26 2013 07:04:21 PM CST
ONALASKA, Wis. -

A vehicle with three people inside fell through the ice Saturday afternoon while out on Lake Onalaska. The SUV went through about one mile north of the La Crosse Airport.

Rescue crews tell News 8 that all three people were able to crawl out of the back of the vehicle without ever getting wet. The lake was only a few feet deep where the vehicle went through the ice.

"It looks to us that there's possibly a pressure ridge where the ice buckled up, formed an air space underneath it, became very weak and that's where the vehicle went through," said Kevin Kappauf, with the La Crosse Area Dive Unit.

"If you look further south, there's actually open water. You gotta be really careful," he added.

There was a fishing tournament going on today on Lake Onalaska but it's not clear whether those involved where part of the tournament.

While it's not illegal to drive your car on the ice, emergency responders say doing so comes with many risks.

"Certainly there are a lot of risks when you decide to drive a vehicle on the ice. With the types of rivers and lakes that we have in this area, they are very unpredictable," said Chief Nate Melby, with the Campbell Fire Department.

"You have to be very careful when you decide when you go out onto the ice and we certainly don't recommend people do that," said Melby, explaining the danger of driving a vehicle on the ice.

The vehicle's owner is now responsible for figuring out how to get it out of the water and paying for the removal.

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