LAKELAND, Minn. (WCCO) — By now we’ve all heard the warnings to stay off the ice after our recent March warmup. Temperatures well into the 60s and bright sunny days have left our lakes and rivers with honeycombed sheets of ice.

Now with gusty north winds, the combination of factors quickly turned treacherous for a Lakeland man who was out exploring the St. Croix River on Tuesday.

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Chris Dedrickson grew up on the river and told us he was attempting to walk out to a nearby island when suddenly the north wind took over.

That’s when the 30 x 15 foot chunk of ice he was standing on broke away from shore and began floating downriver.

“It broke free and figured I could get by paddling with some sticks. Apparently that wasn’t the case, because the wind kicked up and kept me in the middle, I wasn’t able to get over to either shore,” Dedrickson said.

Luckily, Dedrickson was carrying his cell phone and called a friend who was going to head out in a canoe. Instead, Washington County sheriff’s deputies and the Hudson Fire Department used an air boat to pull Dedrickson from the floating ice cake.

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He was brought to shore about one mile downstream from where his harrowing ordeal began, under the Interstate 94 river bridge.

“I didn’t feel like my life was in danger yet, but after a couple more hours passed, then yes,” he said.

Chris also said his father drowned after an accident on the St. Croix when he was just a child. Still, he said he has tremendous respect for water.

What Dedrickson didn’t consider was the weakened state of the ice following an early warm-up.

Once again, it is a valuable lesson learned – stay off the ice.

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