Ice fishing isn't the state sport of Minnesota, but maybe it should be. Thousands of outdoorsmen descend on the Land of 10,000 Lakes' frozen bodies of water every year during the winter season. That's all the driver of this unfortunate Ford Super Duty was doing when he found a crack in the ice and sent his truck down, down to a watery grave about two miles from shore at Lake Winnibigoshish.
Fortunately, it was removed a while later by Ellis Towing, Recovery, and Ice Recovery. But I'm getting ahead of myself—we've also got the full story from the driver himself, a very nice (and now dry) Minnesotan named Chris Brown.
Video of Brown's pickup underwater went viral on TikTok earlier this week when his girlfriend's nephew uploaded a short clip. The view count quickly soared and at the time of publishing, the first TikTok has more than 4.4 million views and roughly 340,000 likes. People love calamity, and I think that's a fair way to describe the situation here.
"I've been ice fishing there with the same truck and same ice house since 2017," Brown told The Drive over the phone. "Sixteen inches of ice is the golden number for me to be able to go out, and that's what there was.
"It came to a point where there were two cracks that came together at the main road and I just happened to hit it."
Brown said that his girlfriend spotted the cracks and after deliberating for a minute, he decided to throw it in reverse with his 24-foot trailer attached. He was only able to back up about 10 feet before the front of his truck started filling with water. The two narrowly escaped the truck before it went all the way under, reaching the bottom of the lake—about 22 feet down at that very spot.
"We had five, six seconds to bail out or we would have been at the bottom of the lake with it," Brown explained. "The truck hit the bottom and pivoted straight up and down. It was still hooked to the ice house."
All that kept Brown's girlfriend from getting seriously injured was the door mirror that got caught on the ice. Had it not hit that snag, he says it could have "cut her in half" or "broke her back" while she escaped out the window. It might have been even worse if this had happened in the spot they were set up the day before where the depth reached roughly 30 feet.
A few kind neighbors invited them over to their ice house, even putting them in dry clothes after they'd been soaked in the frigid temps. They were able to warm up there as they got their wits about them and made a plan to retrieve the Super Duty. This meant calling Ellis Towing, Recovery, and Ice Recovery.
Nearby tow companies frequent the frozen lakes as this sort of thing does happen—just not always in such dramatic fashion. This crew even has a special recovery contraption that sits atop the ice and distributes the weight so it isn't concentrated in one spot. It features a pulley system that winches vehicles up and out of the water.
"The rescue team came out that night and they were able to stand on the tailgate of the truck," Brown continued. "What they do is they drill holes in the ice and they put these T-braces down, and then they run cables from there to the ice house to brace it and the truck so it won't float away."
A second video showing the retrieval has racked up another four million views and 189,000 likes on TikTok. With the Ford out of the water, it revealed Brown's company name: Boonedox Builders, a roofing business in Minnesota. It also showed his phone number, and he said people from Montana, North Carolina, and Texas were calling to make sure he was ok.
"I can't ask for any better advertising, I guess," he quipped.
Brown believes the damages will be covered by insurance as he's contacted them in the past about driving on the ice. They apparently said that so long as he stays on the main road, there shouldn't be any issue. He heard through the grapevine that someone had been cutting donuts on the lake the night before, causing waves to form under the surface which then cracked the ice.
Either way, he's safe—and almost as importantly, so is his ice house.
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