PHOTOS: Lake Iroquois ice accident & ice safety tips

Jan. 27, 2011

Courtesy photos by Dave Schmidt (

Two trucks fell through the ice on Lake Iroquois on Jan. 22. Williston resident and photographer Dave Schmidt captured the removal process with his camera. Schmidt said one truck got stuck on the ice; when the second truck went out to help, the ice collapsed under both vehicles.

Williston Police Sgt. Bart Chamberlain said police were not notified of the incident. In an e-mail to the Observer, he offered the following ice safety information:

The Police Department would echo this basic safety information from the Coast Guard: “no ice is safe ice.”

Ice is seldom the same thickness over a single body of water. It can be 2 feet thick in one place and 1 inch thick a few yards away due to currents, springs, rotting vegetation. You need to check the ice at least every 150 feet, especially early in the season or any situation where the thickness varies widely.

Recommended minimum thicknesses for new clear ice.

4 inches – Ice fishing and small group activities

5 inches – Snowmobiles and ATVs

8 to 10 inches – Small to medium cars, and pickups

White ice, sometimes called “snow ice,” is only about one-half as strong as new clear ice so the above thicknesses should be doubled. Due to the recent snowfalls and late freezing, much of Vermont’s ice could be white ice this winter. From the photos, that appears to be the case in Lake Iroquois. Plus, the ice is covered by a layer of snow that can insulate the ice below from the colder air temperature slowing the freezing process.

Vehicles weighing about 1 ton such as cars, pickups or SUVs should be parked at least 50 feet apart and moved every two hours to prevent sinking. It’s not a bad idea to make a hole next to the car. If water starts to overflow the top of the hole, the ice is sinking and it’s time to move the vehicle!