SAUK CENTRE (WCCO) — A man and his 3-year-old son are recovering after an ATV they were traveling on broke through the ice on a lake north of Sauk Centre, Minn. Now, two teenage girls are being heralded for helping them.

On Thursday at 12:52 p.m., Todd County and Sauk Centre authorities responded to the report of an ATV going through the ice.

According to authorities, the ATV was driven by Travis John Ritter, 30, of Sauk Centre. He and his son, Gabriel Michael Ritter, went through the ice in the ATV into the freezing water.

“I just grabbed (my son) and threw him on to the ice, and he was sitting there, of course, scared out of his mind crying,” said Travis.

Meanwhile, two young teenage witnesses saw the ATV go through the ice and called 911. One of the girls, named Mercedes Eke, called 911 while Kali Arnzen skated to the west side of the lake to help the son.

At first, Kali gave Travis her skates for him to try to grip the ice, but that didn’t work. So, she then gave him one end of her jacket and held onto the other end.

“I told her dig that in, and she dug that other skate in and held on to the jacket. Then, I pulled up, grabbed my son and walked back to shore,” said Travis.

Travis and Gabriel were treated at the scene and taken to St. Michael Hospital. There were no apparent injuries.

“If they wouldn’t have been there, I have no idea what would have happened. So, it’s just a godsend that they were there,” said Travis.

The ATV will be recovered at a later date.

The Todd County Sheriff’s Office has issued a dangerous ice warning for all lakes in Todd County, and is asking that no one operate ATVs and motor vehicles on area lakes until ice conditions improve with colder weather.

Images From: Bryan Zollman and Randy Olson; Sauk Centre Herald

Comments (22)
  1. Common Sense says:

    Really people. It’s been 40 degrees through most of December and expect the ice to be thick enough to drive on. This individual should be sited for child endangerment. Dope!!

    1. Marlis says:

      I agree ‘Common Sense’. Moron dope of a father. the whole problem: this father had NO ‘common sense’ what is wrong with the brains of an individual w/warm temp’s we’ve had and all. child endangerment is right!!!

    2. Goober says:

      Maybe it wasn’t 40 degrees there.

    3. Bill says:

      thin ice is natures way of weeing out the stupid, notice the thin ice sign 10 yards from where this fool went in.

      1. Randy says:

        The thin ice signs went up after the accident you idiot.

        Also, the father had driven on that same spot the night before without incident.

  2. Kevin says:

    Cleanse the gene pool….

  3. billy says:

    I agree,Cleanse the gene pool….

  4. Mike says:

    The head line should read, Iceskaters to Lifesavers! Way to go girls!

  5. Craig Wilson says:

    Father arrested for endangering the life of his son. Drivers license has been revoked. Additional fines are pending for polluting an area lake and payment to the 911 rescue team. Film at 10 stay tuned….

    1. Brian says:

      Glas to see basically wrote what I was/am thinking. Craig, you said it best.

      1. Brian says:

        I did NOT say it best. Sorry for the mis-spellings.

  6. insignificant says:

    ya don’t take your 3 year old out on the ice in an ATV ‘less it’s a foot deep good ice and you’ve punched investigation holes,eh?…argh!!!! 4-5 in ches is good to go for an adult but ya gotta know the lake,where the springs come in…or around islands…or towards the middle this time of year.

  7. Rollin Eyes says:

    Stupid White People! Ok… i’m kidding about the white comment but gawddamnnn people – STAY OFF THE *&&*^%^% WATER!

    I agree with Craig – charge the Dad with endangerment.

  8. Shawn says:

    Just mother nature trying to weed out the smart and stupid.

    1. Shawn says:

      *not so smart

  9. Scratching My Head says:

    The county should be all over this one for child endangerment. This is the near-death stupidity he was caught at. Wonder how he lives the rest of his life and what perils he puts his family through.

  10. Common Sense 2 says:

    Seriously, I’m phoning authorities today to ensure they arrested him for child endangerment. If you (30 yr old) want to risk your own life on a lake on an ATV, that is one thing. But leave the poor 3 yr old out of it.

    And then the paper posts the article like it was some heroic rescue operation! PLEASE! No—-site poor judgment. And tell us about the child endangerment charges. THAT is how the story should read.

    1. Randy says:

      Another idiot comment posted..I see idiots are born every minute.

  11. Sara says:

    I just want to say what brave young girls these were to help out when needed. Smart also to think of trying the skates first and then using her jacket. I hate to say it but I think the young girls were smarter than the father.

  12. Scratching My Head says:

    wcco censor test

  13. stay off ice says:

    If they were bl@ck they would have shot the girls for helping them, robbed them and added to their street cred.

  14. really!!!!!!!!!! says:

    Wow people! First, I’m pretty sure they put the thin ice sign up after the incident. Second, Minnesota weather fluctuates temperatures every day. Third, hindsight is always 20/20. We are humans, we make mistakes. If the girls hadn’t been there, the father and son could of died. true.

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