MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been a problem for years and now someone has gotten hurt after trespassing at Minnehaha Falls.

In the wintertime, the frozen falls are an attraction for people who like to take pictures, but Sunday afternoon a big section of ice fell.

A WCCO viewer was recording video just as the collapse happened.

A spokesperson for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board says the ice hit a 20-year-old woman in the head, causing her to fall and injure her arm and wrist.

WCCO’s Angela Davis was told that young woman is expected to recover from her injuries.

Every winter, people choose to ignore the barricades and “No Trespassing” signs near the designated viewing area so they can get a closer look and take pictures.

“The frozen falls are a beautiful, beautiful sight,” Robin Smothers of the park board said. “Unfortunately it’s not safe.”

Under all that ice at Minnehaha Falls, water is flowing and the ice is shifting, making the area unstable.

“Often what we hear from folks is, ‘Well, they say it’s not safe, but I never hear of anyone getting hurt.’ Well now, not only have you heard of it, you’ve seen it, thanks to that video,” Smothers said.

Judy Babcock was taking pictures of the falls Sunday as a parade of visitors climbed down into a restricted area.

“There were people there with little kids, 6, 7-year-olds, that were going up behind the falls,” Babcock said.

She says it was hard watching first responders try to get everyone out.

“The poor firemen. They had to go down those nasty, icy stairs in all their gear, which is very heavy and clumsy,” Babcock said.

“This has been going on for decades. People are going to the falls, going behind the falls, but with social media it causes more and more people to take pictures, selfies of themselves and their friends,” Smothers said.

Ben Baxter showed WCCO a photo of himself behind the falls on Instagram a couple of years ago.

“I’m one of those people, I’ve done it multiple times,” Baxter said. “You don’t think when you are inside it that that could happen to you and we came here to do that exact same thing.”

Does Sunday’s collapse make Baxter rethink trying to do it again?

“Yes, 100 percent,” he said, “because it’s not worth it.”

Park police gave verbal warnings to about 120 people over the weekend and issued trespassing tickets to seven more.

The park board plans to add more patrol officers out here to make sure people are obeying the law and not risking their lives.

Comments (3)
  1. James Green says:

    Please remove all warning labels. The Darwin awards exist for our entertainment.

  2. It’s just as dangerous to climb down those stairs when they’re icy.