Snowmobiler Through the Ice

By: Mary Rinzel Email
By: Mary Rinzel Email

The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department says the snowmobiler who went through the ice on a local lake is dead.

Deputies say 43-year-old Marlon J. Przybylla of Bloomer died at Luther Hospital just after 11 p.m. Friday.

Around 6 p.m. Friday, rescue crews pulled Przybylla, who was unconscious, from the icy waters of Lake Larrabee. That’s east of New Auburn off Highway 40.

Rescuers say he was probably in the lake for two to three hours.

Rescue and medical crews work for hours to help a snowmobiler who went through the ice on a Chippewa County lake.

Around 6:15 p.m., rescue crews pulled an unconscious man from an ice-covered lake east of New Auburn off Highway 40.

Rescuers on the scene at Larrabee Lake tell us the man was probably in the lake for two to three hours, before they pulled him out.

As of 10 p.m. Friday night, Chippewa County Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk says medical workers were still trying to revive the 43-year-old man.

Around 3:00 Friday afternoon, Chris Haller saw something black on the ice beyond the Larrabee Lodge on Larrabee Lake and got his binoculars for a closer look.

"I couldn't tell what it was. I thought it was a beaver or an otter," says Haller, who owns the Lodge.

He says he then went home to change for work. When he came back two hours later, he got a phone call from the Salisbury Resort, a nearby tavern: A snowmobiler was missing.

"They left Salisbury, followed the tracks, saw the hole, and that's when all these guys got called in," Haller says.

Brian Heidtke, with the New Auburn Fire Department, was out on the ice when rescuers from Chetek pulled the man from the freezing water 15 minutes after arriving and a quarter mile from his destination.

Heidtke says the hole was already starting to freeze over and the crews worked extremely fast.

"We immediately threw him on a cot, placed him on the argo, and got him in the ambulance. They did the best they could," Heidtke says.

He says the lake is not safe for travel.

"I highly recommend staying off the ice. There are springs in this lake and in lots of other lakes,” Heidtke says. “This was a freak accident, but the ice is very, very thin."

The black object Haller saw on the ice earlier turned out to be the man's jacket.

"I was sick. I was hoping, if I only would've known what it was, maybe I could've called. But, I really wish I would've know what it was.”

Heidtke says the ice was only about an inch thick where the snowmobiler went through.

New Auburn Fire Chief Ernie Sylvester says he was not breathing and had no pulse. He was taken to a hospital in Bloomer.

Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk tells us he was then transferred to Luther Hospital in Eau Claire.

This is the second time this week someone has fallen through the ice in Chippewa County. On Wednesday a man died when his ATV went through Pike Lake.

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