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Published January 03, 2011, 12:37 PM

MN Teen Dies After Snowmobile Plunges Through Ice

A southern Minnesota teenager died Thursday night when the snowmobile he and a friend were on plunged into open water on the Third Crow Wing Lake south of Nevis.

By: Sarah Smith, Bemidji Pioneer

A southern Minnesota teenager died Thursday night when the snowmobile he and a friend were on plunged into open water on the Third Crow Wing Lake south of Nevis.

The other teen survived and was taken to St. Joseph’s Area Health Services for treatment.

Sheriff-elect Cory Aukes said two residents who live nearby likely saved the boy’s life.

The two teens were towing a fish house back to shore when they hit open water near the western shore of the lake, where the Crow Wing River flows into the lake.

The search for the missing teen had to be called off Thursday night due to blizzard like conditions and darkness.

The Lakes Area Dive Team could not see underwater. The boy’s body was recovered at 12:20 p.m. Friday.

“It was 7:15 and we saw a head and somebody beating on our French doors,” said Gwen and Jim Fox. The frightened couple, who had just returned home, thought they were about to be robbed.

When they opened the door a distraught young man, clad only in his underwear, was standing at the door.

“He was very distraught,” Gwen Fox said.

“He said they’d gone through the ice and he’d tried to grab his friend and pull him out,” Gwen Fox said.

The couple raced the teen to the shower, where they stood him in lukewarm water for nearly two hours to gradually thaw him out.

“He couldn’t feel his feet,” Gwen Fox said.

Jim Fox said the upset teen told them how he’s stripped off all his clothes to lighten his load once he jumped off the sled.

“He had slush and crushed ice all over him,” Jim Fox said. “He’d dropped his jacket and shoes.”

Gwen kept talking to the boy while Jim called 911.

Rescue crews got stuck as they braved the remote location off Chokecherry Drive.

The teen told the couple he’d tried dragging the boy, pleading with him to strip off his wet clothes also.

“He just didn’t,” Jim Fox said of the victim.

The teen became exhausted and raced to shore for help.

The teens, one other teen and the victim’s father were staying at a cabin on Third Crow Wing Lake, the Foxes said.

The boy’s father became stuck on icy slush across the lake, Jim Fox said.

The couple opened their home to firefighters, divers and rescue crews to change clothes and warm up.

“I don’t think they were too familiar with the lake,” Aukes said. “The mouth of the river just swallowed them up.”

Both Aukes and Jim Fox said the area is very dangerous.

Jim Fox, a member of the lake patrol, said this is the third death he’s seen in that area since he moved there in 1994.

“We were just meant to be here,” Gwen Fox said.

Smith is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer, which is owned by Forum Communications

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