Rescuers say ice isn’t safe enough to be out on right now after woman dies falling in

HARRISON, Idaho — A 77-year-old woman drowned while trying to save her pet that got loose on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Leslie Daniels died yesterday after the Kootenai County Dive Team rescued her body and tried to resuscitate her near Harlow Point. Rescuers don’t want to see another life lost to the lake this winter.

RELATED: Woman dies after falling through ice on Lake Coeur d’Alene

“What may look like thick ice, isn’t,” said Chris Way, the Kootenai Fire Chief.

This isn’t the first drowning they’ve had this season. Way says another man lost his life nearby while ice fishing. No matter how thick the ice looks, it can be deceptive. With the winter we’ve had, no ice is thick enough right now, and the only way to test its thickness will put you in great danger.

“To test the ice, you have to get out on the ice. Unless you’re trained and have the proper equipment, we don’t want you out on the ice,” Way said.

The situation was different years ago. Way says that 20 or 30 years ago, the ice was thicker, but winter’s aren’t as cold here anymore, and this winter has been mild for the most part. Our most recent cold snap wasn’t long enough to freeze the ice either.

“As we see things that look safe, they probably aren’t as safe as you think they are,” Way said.

When a body hits frigid water and becomes hypothermic, it’s hard for you to swim or function at all, making every second count during a rescue that firefighters take very seriously.

“We’re going to have 15 or 20 people on shore, making sure they’re tied off, that the ropes work, that the personal protective equipment is set so that they can perform the rescue when they need to,” Way said.

If you see someone on the ice struggling, don’t try and save them. Always call 911 and allow a trained professional to perform the rescue.