EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Venturing out onto the ice for fishing and other winter fun is a Wisconsin tradition.
But lately there have been dangerous reminders of the importance of staying safe out on the lake.
A Sunday drive on Lake Wissota soon turned dangerous for the Miller family of Fall Creek as their truck hit a weak patch of ice.
The Chippewa County Sheriff's Department said people fishing nearby helped the family of four make it out safely before the truck sunk into the lake.
“It happens probably every year,” said Recreation Safety Warden Bill Yearman of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Yearman said the ice may look sturdy, but appearances can be deceiving.
“This year we had a lot of snow cover, and that melted and refroze and that’s traditionally not as good of ice,” Yearman said.
The DNR says ice levels should be at least four inches to walk and fish on, five to ride a snowmobile or ATV, eight inches for a car, and a foot for a truck.
The warden said drivers should keep on the path of other vehicles and stay away from inlets.
Because ice thickness can change from spot to spot, fisherman Mark Kuula said he follows the DNR’s suggestion of measuring the ice before heading out for winter fun.
“We drill a hole and we take an ice scoop and we'll measure what that ice thickness is. Then we'll go out from there and drill two or three more holes and gage what the difference is,” Kuula said.
The owner of Tacklesmith.com said doing this gives him peace of mind especially after some close calls.
“Every time you go out on the ice you're taking a risk,” Kuula said.
If your vehicle breaks through the ice, the DNR gives you 30 days to remove it.
“If they chose not to get it out they could be imposed a fine per day for not removing it,” Yearman said.
The Chippewa County Sheriff's Department said the truck was removed from the lake last night and it took around six hours to get it towed out.