Newport man gets DWI on Battle Creek LakeA Newport man found out the true meaning of the phrase “Thin Ice” late last month.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
A Newport man found out the true meaning of the phrase “Thin Ice” late last month.
Mark Daniel Wenzel, 29, was driving his snowmobile across the frozen surface of Battle Creek Lake Sunday, Jan. 27, when he attempted to cross open water. He and his passenger didn’t make the jump and broke through the ice near the open water, according to a Woodbury police report.
Nearby ice anglers called 911 around 3:30 p.m. as they witnessed the snowmobile and its riders plunge into the water on the west end of the lake, near the end of Edgewood Avenue, adjacent to the public access area in Shawnee Park.
Wenzel and his passenger managed to get out of the water and to safety before emergency responders arrived at the scene, but it didn’t take long for Woodbury patrol officers to figure out something fishy was going on.
Wenzel had apparently been drinking and was cited for misdemeanor fourth-degree driving while intoxicated, the report stated.
Woodbury Public Safety spokeswoman Kim Peterson said she was unaware of any previous reports of fisherman falling through the ice on Battle Creek Lake, which is a popular destination for local ice anglers.
“The open water is pretty clearly marked,” Peterson said, referring to the orange reflective signs that line the perimeter of the open water and state “Danger: Thin Ice.”
The open water is the result of an aeration system installed annually by city officials to keep fish alive through the winter, because of the lake’s shallow depths.
Battle Creek Lake is the only body of water where the city installs an aeration system for winter.
Officials at the state Department of Natural Resources have said aeration systems have been operating on about 280 Minnesota lake this winter.
DNR officials have said that it’s important to stay away from areas marked for aeration systems because the open water can shift or change shapes depending on weather conditions. Leaks may develop in air lines creating other areas of weak ice or open water.