If you have a photo of a vehicle that went through the ice, you are welcome to email it (together with your name, if you would like credit) and it will be posted here.

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12/16/13 First Through the Ice 2013-13
Hi Larry,
     A guy from Willow was following his buddies on the way to the Islander on Sunday, and fell through the channel on a new Polaris that he’d borrowed from a friend.  The machine was successfully recovered this afternoon by the rider, the owner of the machine, and another friend of theirs who’d also been on the fateful ride. He luckily had seen his friend drop through, and stopped before running over him, or joining him in the drink. They retrieved the machine today out of about 4 feet of water.  The temperatures at the time were hovering around minus 8, which didn’t make their job any easier, but they were well equipped and even appeared to still be friends when they were done.
     The channel will be quite rough from the broken ice on that side, so snowmachiners who normally blast through there will have to watch out for stray chunks of ice.

12/16/13 First Trough the Ice 2013-14 Photos
(story under Problem Corner)
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Flat Lake Channel 

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Recovery at Minus 8°F.

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Using plywood to lever the machine out of the hole, just like the Russians (see video below).

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Up comes the machine.

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...and onto the shore.

4/11/12: Tundraben DON'T DRIVE ON THE LAKE report
          I saw a truck driving along side of the road this morning. A while later I got an email asking for suggestions on how to get it out of the over flow as it broke through the surface ice.
       I suppose she got back on the road due to the berms from driveways. She's stuck over at the west end point of Long island. It looks like it could be pulled back but who's going out?
          I went over to see and judging by the foot prints she walked away.                                        Photos:
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12/11/10: TUNDRABEN reports first car through the ice: at Visqueen Point on Big Lake

Two from TUNDRABEN 12/8/009

A new species of Shepherd Island Dipper

Red Oaks' truck went in on Tundra Ben's birthday

Channel ice report 12/7/08
Two snowmachiners went into the Flat Lake channel in the dark last night, riding side by side.  When the young lady I spoke with realized she was going through the ice, she was most frightened because she can't swim.  She stood on top of her machine until her partner came back with help.  She had never heard of the problem with thin ice in the channels.  They returned today to do a little of what their rescuers called "redneck fishing." - Larry Taylor (with thanks to Carolyn for the alert)

I watched them pull out this snowmachine
and then found out there was another...

A rescuer hooking up to the second machine...

Second machine coming out of the Flat Lake channel

Hey Larry did you get pics of the truck that went through the ice today between mud and flat lake??? This must have happened between 930 and 1230 this am....the windshield wipers were still going when I got there, Mike called the troopers for me and was told they already got the person or persons out...so that is good news..!! Anna...11/18/08

Wow! Dual reports...

Hi gang,
I don't think you're supposed to drive when you do a "Polar Bear Plunge."  I imagine the 2 people standing on the roof of this truck were pretty cold by the time the fire department got a ladder to them that they could climb to shore. It was about 5 below at the time. Brrrrrr. 11/18/08

Judy Strong got some good pictures of yesterday's mishap at the channel, and has shared them with us. (Yeah, don't do anything you don't want the world to see if you're on Flat Lake!)

Same event, third set of photos 11/18/08

Note the suited up emergency worker under the ladder making sure the cold, wet survivor doesn't have to get into the ice water again!


Flat Lake, Alaska
Photos and stories of vehicles that fell through the ice.
Look at the videos below, from ABC TV News and our own Houston's "Big Lake IQ Test,"
if you plan to drive on ice.

Aside from vehicles, people sometimes fall through the ice unassisted by heavy machinery when the fates have decided they need to cool off.

5/7/11 Larry falls through the ice.  I called Dale and he called Shawn and Larry, who skipped their snowmachines to shore and shoved Styrofoam blocks out for me to climb out on.  The ice shard I'm holding is eleven inches long, so that's the ice depth.  No thickness of shard ice is safe. Shawn Veech photo

Carolyn fell through 50 feet in front of the Haggard cabin, and survived. 11/19/07 - Carolyn Haggard photo
Taylor, "Is the hole frozen over now?"
Carolyn, "I don't know, and I'm not all that anxious to find out." 

Last in, first out:
The last vehicle to go through the ice in 2009 was a snowmachine that broke through in the Flat Lake Channel on New Year's Eve.  It was then the first pulled out in 2010.  Photos when everyone was dried off and warmly dressed that morning are posted in the center and right columns to remind people not to drive (or ride) through the channels (which are now posted "Thin Ice").  Water flows through the channels and at the Big Lake outlet at Fish Creek, keeping the ice thin even though it was -10 ºF New Year's Eve. (It was the second snowmachine that went through after the first broke the ice.) - Larry Taylor


Safe and warm after going through the ice in the Flat Lake Channel.


OK, where do we hook onto it...


What's that warning sign on the bushes?


Aha!  The sign says "Thin Ice!"


Good Dad retrieving the machine.


Maybe it looks OK, but don't ride through the channels!


ABC News Channel 13 takes an interest in FlatLake.com (with permission).  Jeff Ross notes that this newscast says these cars went through on Flat Lake, which is not accurate.  They were on Big Lake.  There was thin ice when the first snow fell, so if you were not able to clear the snow off the ice early on, make sure to measure it before driving over it.  Listen to Carolyn in the newscast to hear about that.  For the oil truck or the septic truck to drive to your cabin this winter, have your driveway plowed to make it thicker quicker.  - Larry Taylor

"The Warm Guys"
Central Plumbing and Heating. Submitted by Monika Patrick of Kathy's Restaurant, Big Lake.

17-yr old drove a Grand Am onto the ice from North Shore campground on 11/16/07. That's the trunk showing (he was rescued).
- Carolyn Haggard report and photo, and now a video of the event by Houston, called "Big Lake IQ Test":

11/16/07 3" of ice was not enough for this Grand Am 100 feet out from the North shore Campground.

4-14-07 Dodge truck series





Another truck down!
This one was on the the West End of Big Lake ... and was the 2nd vehicle to go thru this spot ... caused by ice fishermen drilling holes directly in the road.  Happy Hooker got it out around 9pm Monday (4/16/07).

Todd's truck in Philpott's Cove in '05
submitted by
Terry & Bridget Kincaid

Back to front page.


Back to front page.

11/21/12 - Mark Gordon tells quite a story:
        Hi. I’m the idiot who drove his pickup through the ice and to the bottom of Big Lake at Burnt Point on 14 November 2012.
I followed other vehicle tracks in the fresh snow nearly to Burnt Point. They went to a house nearby. I foolishly figured it was safe all the way to the point, and followed 4-wheeler tracks in the snow right up to my new swimming hole. Big mistake.
I should have known better, but didn’t realize how late Burnt Point stays open. The first time I drove on Big Lake was 1975, and I’ve ice fished Burnt Point for decades.
        The truck has a plow on the front, and it went down FAST. I estimate that the water there is 25’ to 30’ deep. I was trapped in the cab for what I estimate was a minute. I couldn’t hold my breath much longer, but finally got out and swam to the surface. It took an additional 7-10 minutes to get out of the water and onto the ice. A propane tank (used to power my ice fishing tent heater) floated to the surface and served as a life ring. Without it, I couldn’t have gotten out on the ice.
        Fortunately, two ladies who are caregivers for Mr. Gantz on Lighthouse Road saw the truck go down and called both the Big Lake Fire Department as well as a man who lived nearby. He walked out and guided me to the Gantz home where I was able to stay warm while waiting for the EMTs. Nearly a week later, my fingers are still numb. I hope there is no permanent damage.
        I’ve had close brushes with death before, but this one may have been the closest. Just as I was accepting the possibility of drowning, the door opened.
        Scary, for sure.

11/23/12 - How to be safe driving on the ice:
A few people have written in about the scary story Mark wrote, saying their loved ones were already afraid of driving on the ice. So I suggested Carolyn Haggard tell us how to do it safely, and she complied. - LT

Carolyn wrote: "Checking ice thickness is pretty simple. Just draw a ruler on the bar of a chainsaw with a felt pen. Cut straight down into the ice with the chainsaw, and watch the marks as they pass into the ice. You'll know immediately when you are through the ice and into the water- the saw will start spraying water out, and there won't be any resistance. We figure, after viewing a few ice safety charts and through experience, that 6" of clear ice will hold cars and small trucks. Full-size pick-ups are fine on 8". We have a heavy 3/4 ton chevy with a plow that weighs over 900 lbs, so we prefer to wait until we have 10" to 12" before we bring that on. It's important to check thickness as you go, about every 100' or so, if the thickness is consistent, and more often if it varies by more than an inch or so, or if you are unfamiliar with when different areas of the lake froze. Air temps that stay above freezing will require more ice thickness to provide the same degree of support. And in the spring the ice begins to deteriorate and will develop holes and soft spots."


The dark shape sticking out of the ice is the wheel of a 4-wheeler in the Flat Lake Channel.  Second breakthrough in two days.  The thin ice warning sign and the stop sign are on both sides of the channel.  The two riders, including a 3-year old child, are OK. Story below...

1/2/10 Flat Lake Channel Snares Two More (with a 1/3/10 update):
     Incredible as it may seem, Dan Kruse was replacing the "Thin Ice" warning sign someone had taken down yesterday after the snowmachine went through the ice in the Flat Lake Channel and putting up reflective "Stop" signs today when a 4-wheeler came through from Flat Lake over the ice in the channel, missing the hole.  Dan stopped the 20-year old girl and asked if she hadn't seen the sign.  She said she had but that they were from Big Lake and always ride through the channels.  Just then another 4-wheeler came headed through the channel, but this time aimed right at the hole in the ice left by the snowmachine the night before.  Dan ran toward it waving his arms to get it to stop, but it kept coming, right into the hole.  Dan ran and helped the lady (the first girl's mother) out and was amazed to see a 3-year old pop up out of the ice water.  Dan pulled the woman out and says the girl must have pulled the child out.  They were being followed by a truck on the ice road, that stopped for them to get in and drove off.  The 4-wheeler remains in the channel this evening.  One of its wheels is sticking out of the ice, as seen in the photo to the right.  Let's hope no one hits it.

Update: Grace Kruse adds that the first woman was riding a snowmachine.  The child was screaming when it popped out of the ice.  The mother ran, too, and made what Dan called a "Pete Rose Dive" across the ice, scooped her child into her arms and rolled sideways away from the edge of the hole on the ice, which, thank Heaven, did not break.  I asked Dan if he thought they would ride through the channels again and he said he did not think so; it was a very traumatic experience. - Larry Taylor

It looked like such a good place to park.

What NOT to do with wife's car while she's out of town! Mike Szymanski is now a member of the elite group!! - Cathy Mayfield

Photo thanks to Cam Hodge

Did the occupants have to rip through the roof to get out?

The channels are fairly shallow. Note the windscreens on the snowmachines on the trailer behind this one.



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