Minivan rescued from lake after parking on ice

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COLUMBIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLNS) — With warmer than average temperatures, it hasn’t been an ideal start to the year for winter fun, especially out on the ice.

A Jackson County man learned that the hard way Monday morning after his minivan broke through the ice and fell into Clark Lake in Columbia Township.

Thankfully, no one was hurt.

And surprisingly, the man was even able to drive his minivan away from the lake.

While this emergency had a good ending, authorities say this is a perfect example of why you should think twice before going out on the ice.

Columbia Township Fire Chief Scott Cota says the van was left on the ice for several days so the owner could use it for ice fishing.

But the Pontiac Montana minivan was too heavy for the weak ice and broke through.

“Currently the ice isn’t safe for vehicles. I wouldn’t even trust a four wheeler out here,” Cota said.

He says most lakes around Jackson County are frozen over.

But this winter, we can’t trust Mother Nature to keep us safe.

“We’ve had rain and stuff like that; it’s made the surface layer not as thick. With the warm temperatures and cold temperatures at night, it’s causing that stuff to heave and it’s just making the ice unsafe. With the projected warmer temperatures I don’t know what’s going to happen to it,” Cota said.

On top of that, Cota says driving and parking on the ice isn’t recommended.

“You’re taking stuff at your own risk when you do that. You’re insurance company doesn’t like it, and if you go through you have to deal with the DNR. So no, it’s not a good thing to do in my opinion,” Cota said.

Crews were able to free the ice-bound minivan.

Because its engine was never fully submerged, the owner was able to drive it home.

“Yeah, he was lucky,” Cota said.

Firefighters have marked off the area where the van fell through the ice as a warning to anyone who might venture onto the lake.

“Let’s just hope no one tries to drive out on this side,” Cota said.

The owner of the minivan is not currently facing any charges or tickets.

However, he did have to pay the tow company that fished his vehicle out of the lake.

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