The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 4, 2014

Monett teen’s dare sparks needless lake search

MONETT, Mo. — Authorities in Monett say no charges are expected against a teenager who took a dare that prompted a needless search of an icy lake inside the town.

“There was nothing criminal about this,” police Chief Tim Schweder told the Globe on Tuesday.

The search of Monett City Park Lake began Monday afternoon after a worker spotted snowy footprints leading to a hole in the ice on the lake. Police and firefighters decided a search was needed and brought in divers.

Schweder said search crews were anticipating the worst — pulling a body out of the lake instead of a survivor.

“It was obvious someone had gone through the ice there, and we talked (at the time) that it was going to be a recovery instead of a rescue,” he said.

One diver was unable to spot anything. Another team was about to enter the water when some teenagers showed up and said their 16-year-old friend had taken a $3 bet to cross the lake Sunday night.

The boy, whose name was not released, was making a video of the trek when he fell through the ice, the teens told rescue crews. He had climbed safely out of the hole and showed the video to friends at school Monday.

The incident was a first for Monett, which has few bodies of water within its city limits. There have been no issues or situations like this one with the lake in the eight years that Schweder has worked for the police department, he said.

The lake, about half an acre in size, is restricted only to children’s fishing; even in warmer seasons, no swimming is allowed, he said.

Schweder said the incident serves as a reminder to be cautious of icy surfaces in cold weather.

“Don’t go out on the ice unless it’s thick enough to support you,” he said.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the only true safe ice during the winter is the ice at a skating rink. It’s impossible to judge the strength of ice by its appearance or the temperature of the air, the patrol said in a release issued last month by Col. Ron Replogle.

The patrol urged winter recreation enthusiasts to:

• Measure ice thickness in several locations, starting in areas where the water is shallow. If it is less than three inches, stay off the ice. Wait to walk out onto the ice until there are at least four inches of clear, solid ice.

• Never go onto ice alone. A companion may be able to rescue you or go for help if there is trouble.

• Bring along safety equipment, including ice picks, rope and a personal safety kit.

• Avoid driving on ice, as it is difficult to see open holes.

• Avoid going onto the ice to rescue another person or a pet. Call for emergency services first, then extend a ladder, pole or rope to the victim to help them float.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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