Two people die in ice fishing accident

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A grandfather and grandson died last Saturday night after their ATV went through the ice on the north end of Lake Poinsett.

Emergency personnel from the Hamlin County Emergency Management, Codington Search and Rescue and Lake Norden Ambulance, and law enforcement from the Hamlin County Sheriff's Office, South Dakota Game Fish and Parks, and the South Dakota Highway Patrol were dispatched to the scene.

The two victims were retrieved from the water and taken by Lake Norden Ambulances to Prairie Lakes Hospital in Watertown. At the hospital, the 60-year-old man, Michael Berwald of Toronto, S.D., and the 9-year-old boy were both pronounced dead.

After the rescue, Brookings Dispatch Center received a 911 call that a four-wheeler and shack had broken through the ice and were partially in the water on Lake Poinsett's northeast region. Emergency personnel were called to the scene, but no injuries were reported in this incident.

Anglers are cautioned about going onto area lakes as ice thickness changes from several inches to just an inch in a matter of a foot distance.

According to the National Weather Service, the area is forecast to see high temperatures above or near freezing through the rest of the week with overnight lows mainly into the 20s. This could continue to create hazardous conditions on Lake Poinsett and other nearby lakes.

Hamlin County Sheriff Chad Schlotterbeck said the ice is thinner than usual this year and is not suitable for some activities.

This advice holds true in Kingsbury and other area counties as well. Kingsbury County Conservation Officer Shane Van Bockern said, “The ice is obviously not the best anywhere around the area. Unseasonably mild winter weather with more warm weather this week has made things pretty dangerous for ice travel.” He said two ATVs fell through the ice on Lake Thompson last week, and vehicles also fell through at Dry #2 in Clark County. Van Bockern said that thin spots of ice from late-migrating snow geese have also kept pockets open, and pressure heaves have formed, which should be avoided.

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