Man, dog rescued after truck goes through ice on St. Louis RiverShortly before 1 p.m. today, a pickup truck went through the ice of the St. Louis River. But it came to rest in shallow water, allowing the driver and his dog to be rescued.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
Shortly before 1 p.m. Sunday, a pickup truck went through the ice of the St. Louis River. But it came to rest in shallow water, allowing an ice fisherman and his dog to be rescued.
Ron Gustafson said he and his wife were sitting in the sunroom of their Billings Park home overlooking the river, when they saw the front end of the pickup suddenly go through the ice. He grabbed the phone and called 911.
The Superior Fire Department and the local water rescue team (composed of firefighters, and members of the Superior Police and Douglas County Sheriff’s departments) responded.
Scott Gordon, a Superior fire battalion chief, sent two men out on the ice in dry suits to assess the situation. They found the ice was about 4 inches thick where the truck went through. Fortunately, the water underneath was only about 2 feet deep.
The first responders talked to the driver of the vehicle and encouraged the driver, Clifford Vieu, 51, of Superior, to stay put in the cab of his truck until they could reach him.
“His main complaint was that his feet were getting numb,” Gordon said. Vieu’s lower legs had gone into the river
By about 2 p.m., rescuers in dry suits had reached the vehicle and recovered Vieu’s dog, Buddy. Vieuw came next and was transported by four-wheeler to a waiting Gold Cross ambulance to warm up. It was determined that he did not require medical care and he was taken home, along with Buddy.
A 25-year resident of Billings Park, Gustafson said he’s often surprised to see how many people still trust the ice enough to drive on it late into the season.
“It’s pretty safe ice until we get around to this time of year. People should know better,” he said.
Dean McCall said he has lived in Billings Park for about 20 years and has seen at least a half-dozen vehicles go through the river’s unpredictable ice.
“With the current, thin spots turn up in different places every year,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t drive on the river ice even in the dead of winter.
“There’s no such thing as perfect ice on a river,” Gordon said, noting that river currents cause weak spots.