Lake Poinsett, SD
Officials have recovered and identified the body of an ice fisherman who reportedly drowned in Lake Poinsett Monday night.
46-year-old Greg Ronne of Clear Lake died after driving his ATV into open water. Authorities say Ronne was ice fishing with two of his friends Monday night on the southeastern side of Lake Poinsett when they decided to head toward shore around 6 p.m. But at that time, the snow, wind and cold picked up significantly. All three started heading back in their own individual ATVs with Ronne leading the way. But that's when officials say he became disoriented and drove into open water.
Ronne and his friends were reportedly around 400 yards away from shore ice fishing on Lake Poinsett when they decided to head back in the cold, snow and darkness. But Ronne's friends noticed something was wrong.
"Two of the individuals were following him and realized he was off course," Hamlin County Chief Deputy Chad Schlotterbeck said. "They attempted to try and catch up to him, but they were unable to do so."
Ronne drove into open water. After his friends tried to rescue him, search crews tried looking for the body late Monday, but were forced to suspend the search until Tuesday morning.
"We worked until approximately 10 p.m. last (Monday) night," Schlotterbeck said. "But due to the poor conditions, divers were unable to get into the water last night. The decision was made at that time to continue to try to do it in the daylight."
And just before noon on Tuesday, authorities recovered and identified Ronne's body.
Our mild winter has lent itself to a lot of wetspots on areas like Lake Poinsett, which is why authorities are warning people about going out on the ice.
"The ice conditions right now are very, very difficult at best," Schlotterbeck said. "We have lots of open spots, lots of weak ice. We could go from five inches thick down to one inch thick in many places."
And that's why, for the time being, Schlotterbeck is recommending people stay away from the ice.
"We don't want to see any more tragedies," Schlotterbeck said.
Schlotterbeck said the conditions were even perilous for his trained rescue teams because the ice was starting to break a good 10 feet away from the hole where the ATV sank.