Skier found drowned after falling through ice

The body of a 60-year-old man was found in the hole of a frozen sea inlet in Umeå, northern Sweden, a day after he went missing.

The man went skiing on the frozen Mjölefjärden inlet about 20 kilometres south of Umeå at lunchtime on Saturday.

Police received a call at around 3pm, yet the man’s body wasn’t recovered until Sunday morning after a massive search operation.

The police used search dogs, scooters and a helicopter to find the missing man, with sea rescue services and the coastal guard involved, too.

Overnight, the temperature dropped to minus 15 degrees Celsius.

The man had apparently drowned in a hole in the ice about 450 metres from the shore.

The inlet had reportedly only been frozen for a couple of days when the man ventured out on it.

A local police officer riding a scooter noticed ski tracks on the ice and followed them until he was no longer sure that the ice would hold.

At that point he notified the coastal guard, who took over the search using a hovercraft.

Further out, near a hole in the ice, the search team found some of the man’s belongings and later his body was found inside the hole.

“It is very tragic”, Simon Wormö, the local police commander, told Sveriges Radio (SR).

Wormö explained that the ice was on the edge of open waters and that ice holes can emerge at any time of the day, depending on weather conditions.

In windy weather, snow can blow over and cover the holes, making the territory treacherous and risky.

Wormö recommended skiers and ice skaters to keep as close to land as possible and not to venture far out on sea ices.

The 60-year-old’s family has been notified of his death.

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Be wary of perilous Easter ice, Sweden warned

The beginning of spring means an increased risk of falling through surface ice on lakes and watercourses that are thawing.

Be wary of perilous Easter ice, Sweden warned
File photo: Tobias Röstlund / TT

With April a particularly dangerous month, Easter holidaymakers have been advised to take extra care.

“There are a lot of snowmobiles out there during Easter. It is the time of year when snowmobiles are used the most, especially in the mountains. Easter falls very late this year and that means the ice is much weaker,” said Per-Olov Wikberg, coordinator with Nationella snöskoterrådet (National Snowmobile Council).

According to Wikberg, the majority of snowmobile accidents happen around Easter. Of 70 deaths due to accidents involving the vehicle type in the last ten years, almost half were the result of drowning. Several other serious ice-related accidents have also occurred.

“The thing that is special about snowmobiles is that they are heavy and can travel very fast. You can quickly find yourself on bad ice without hearing or seeing the warning signs,” he said.

A survey carried out by the snowmobile council found that three out of ten people had experienced an accident caused by ice breaking or nearly breaking.

Only four out of ten said they had consulted somebody with local knowledge before heading out onto the ice.

Authorities therefore advise the public to always prioritise safety when deciding whether to go out on the vehicles or on the ice in general, particularly in unfamiliar areas.

“This year it’s nasty. The ice can crack very fast and this does not depend so much on the temperature, but on the fact the sun is high in the sky. That warms the inside of the ice,” said project manager Jan Insulander of ice safety advisory board Issäkerhetsrådet.

“Keep in mind that ice that was hard and cold in the morning can become slush that you can fall through later in the day,” he added.

The National Snowmobile Council believes that the public needs better – potentially life-saving – knowledge about ice and lakes.

“Everyone should have respect for the ice, because the ice can quickly become bad in the spring because of heat and sunshine,” Wikberg said.

READ ALSO: Five top tips for staying safe on the ice in Sweden