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Truck breaks through ice, plane flips on Lake Winnipesaukee

  • A warning sign in the parking lot of the Wolfeboro town docks that look out into Lake Winnipesaukee Monday.

Associated Press
Published: 2/20/2017 1:23:34 PM

New Hampshire Fish and Game conservation officers had a busy afternoon on Lake Winnipesaukee, where a truck broke through the ice and a plane crashed trying to take off from an ice runway.

It happened Sunday in Alton. First, officers helped a New Durham man whose pickup truck ended up partially submerged as he tried to remove a bob house from the lake. During that investigation, they saw a plane land upside down after trying to take off from the Alton Bay runway. Both the pilot and passenger were trapped in the cockpit. Bystanders lifted the tail of the plane, while conservation officers broke the glass of the cockpit.

The pilot suffered minor injuries.

Fish and Game officials have been urging caution after three deaths at the lake the previous weekend. They have offered a simple message to the thousands of snowmobilers, ice anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts who will be in the state over the next few weeks: “If you don’t know, don’t go.”

It will be a busy few weeks as Massachusetts and New Hampshire schools close for winter vacation. The Fish and Game Department reminded visitors that there are numerous areas – particularly on large lakes like Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam and Newfound – with large areas of open water or thin, unsafe ice.

Those lakes could have ice that is anywhere from 18 inches down to 1 inch thick.

Maj. John Wimsatt said people should personally check the ice thickness across an entire waterbody before venturing out on foot, snowmobile or off-highway recreational vehicle.

“Do not assume that just because the ice is safe in one location, that it will be safe 100 feet farther away,” he said.

The U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover offers guidelines on ice thickness. It recommends a minimum of 6 inches for foot travel and 8 to 10 inches for snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle travel. But thick ice doesn’t necessarily mean strong. Varying weather conditions can cause ice to break down.

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