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Park City Fire District warns frozen bodies of water are never 100% safe

Ice fishing on Deer Creek Reservoir in January 2023.
Michelle Deininger
Ice fishing on Deer Creek Reservoir in January 2023.

A 14-year-old boy died after falling through ice at a Tooele County reservoir this week. It’s a tragic reminder that ice can be dangerous no matter how safe it may seem.

Search and Rescue crews worked late into the night Monday after receiving a call that a boy fell through the ice at the Settlement Canyon Reservoir in Tooele. He was walking with other boys when two of them fell in. One was able to get out alive. The other was not.

Shaun Brigdon is tech operations engineer at Summit County's Station 33 on Bitner Road. He said his station crew is trained in special technical rescue disciplines like ice rescues.

“Ice can be tricky because in kind of a safety standpoint, ice is never 100% safe," he said.

He explained thickness is key when it comes to recreating on ice.

“Checking the thickness of ice in multiple places is important," he said. "Like avid enthusiasts that you go fishing a lot, they have the tools to do that when they use their augers to drill through the ice and they can really kind of get hands on and find out how thick that ice is. But that's really the only way to know so just being cautious anytime you're on ice is really the only way.”

Brigdon said there are a few target hazards in the Wasatch Back for ice recreation. Willow Creek pond on Old Ranch Road is one that’s deep enough to be considered hazardous and people should take precautions.

“Clear ice is stronger than ice with snow on it because what happens is, over time and the temperature gradient of the day, the ice melts a little bit and then refreezes at night. So you just get that thickness of ice building up.”

Brigdon said always take a friend when venturing out onto ice and let someone who is not out on the ice know where you are going. He also said if there is an ice accident, the first thing to do is call 911.

“We don't want multiple victims to fall through the ice," he said. "If somebody does fall through the ice, having only one party at risk instead of multiples trying to, you know, go out and pull somebody off the ice without help or support system.”

Learn more about staying safe on ice here.