DILLON — After a woman and her dog fell through the ice earlier this week, officials are warning residents that melting ice in and around Summit County’s waterways can be dangerous.
At about noon Monday, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and Summit Fire & EMS responded to a report that a dog fell through the ice and into the water at the Snake River inlet to Dillon Reservoir. In an attempt to rescue the dog, the owner also fell through the ice. Both the dog and owner were uninjured.
“Although I am highly confident of the skills and training of my staff in ice rescues, this incident could have had a very different outcome,” Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said in a news release.
According to rescue workers, the dog was fine by the time they arrived but two people had gotten themselves into trouble.
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“The dog was running around on the shore by the time we got there,” said Brian Metzger, a special operations technician with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. “But there were two people in the water that went in to save the dog. Ultimately, they were both able to get out themselves.
“One of the parties was OK and ran back home to warm up. The other — the dog’s owner — made it to shore, but collapsed and couldn’t make it much further.”
The woman was in the water for about five minutes and was diagnosed with a mild case of hypothermia, according to the Sheriff’s Office. She was placed in an ambulance to warm up before being released.
According to officials, a majority of ice rescues involve similar circumstances, wherein someone’s pet falls through the ice and the owner tries to save it.
“I went out with a crew just last week to do training on ice rescues, and the scenario we discussed was specifically about not letting your dogs go onto the ice,” said Steve Lipsher, public information officer with Summit Fire & EMS. “All too often, the dog falls through, and then someone goes to rescue it, and they fall through, as well. This is a reminder that a large number of potential ice problems happen because people underestimate the thickness of the ice or the weight it will bear. … If the ice isn’t solid enough to support your dog, it’s not solid enough to support you.”
Spring ice is never safe, as ice thickness is inconsistent and changing daily with fluctuations in the weather, according to the Sheriff’s Office. If you’re in a situation where someone has fallen through the ice, the Sheriff’s Office recommends calling 911 and avoiding going onto the ice or into the water to try to rescue someone.
If the victim cannot get out, bystanders should encourage them to try to stay afloat, get their arms onto the side of the ice and stay as calm as possible. If possible, others should reach out to them without leaving the shore using ladders, poles, ropes, hoses or anything else that might reach them.
Pet owners also should remain vigilant of ice and keep their pets close by and under control at all times.
FitzSimons urged members of the community to “exercise caution and safety for themselves and pets when around water and unfamiliar ice conditions.”
The Sheriff’s Office, Summit Fire and the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District all maintain trained ice rescue personnel.