HOUGHTON/HANCOCK — A Wisconsin man is fortunate to be all right but his snowmobile was not so lucky after falling through the ice Friday on the Portage Canal.
The ice on the Portage Canal is not safe for snowmobiles. A Wisconsin man found that out the hard way when his snowmobile went through approximately three inches of ice about 10 a.m. Friday. The accident happened about 50 yards from the Hancock shoreline near Portage Lake Lift Bridge.
Hancock Police Chief Wayne Butler said, “They were coming down the Portage Canal and, as they were approaching the bridge I guess, they start sinking in the slush and the machine stalled out. I think he got wet up to maybe his knees or something, which is probably where the sled and the weight went through the ice.”
Crews tried unsuccessfully to pull the sled from the ice. There is only about three inches of ice on the canal and there would need to be about twice that to support the weight of a snowmobile. But that still doesn’t mean it’s safe to cross.
Houghton County Emergency Management Coordinator Jack Dueweke said, “We’ve got temperatures in the single digits. There’s plenty of snow and it seems like being able to ride a sled on the waterway would be perfectly safe, it’s February after all. But in fact, given the way the ice formed this year, given the kind of winter we’ve had and what have you, the ice is not safe.”
Snowmobilers that fall through the ice can be subject to fines and recovery costs for the sled. Instead of crossing the ice, snowmobilers are urged to use the cross-way underneath the bridge.