What to know before you go out onto lake ice

Feb 1, 2024, 6:00 PM

lake ice...

FILE - Ken Snow, a happy ice fisherman, holds up a nice 16-inch Cuthroat Trout on Strawberry Reservoir in 2002. (Don Grayston/Deseret News)

(Don Grayston/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A deputy with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office drowned while rescuing a woman who had fallen through the lake ice at Settlement Canyon Reservoir in Tooele County. 

Emaloni Takitoa Lutui, 20, of Taylorsville, died while saving the life of a woman fighting to free herself from the icy water.

Utah safety experts warn: Do not go in the water or near the victim. Many would-be rescuers become victims too when moving in too close.

Man who died saving woman from icy reservoir was Salt Lake County deputy

Officials are warning people to stay off lake ice as a warming period settles over northern Utah. Some Utah cities saw January temperatures rise above 60 degrees.

On Feb.13, 2023, the reservoir was the site of another tragedy:

The Tooele County Sheriff’s Office said that 14-year-old Jayden Davis’ body was recovered early Tuesday morning after calls of three teens falling through the ice  at Settlement Canyon Reservoir.

Police identify teenager who died at Tooele reservoir


Lake ice dangers

Devan Chavez of the Utah State Parks discusses the dangers of ice and tips for staying safe on lake ice.

According to the State Parks website:

Clear ice is capable of holding more weight than cloudy ice. There should be a minimum of 4 inches of clear ice before walking out onto the lake. There should also be at least 6 or more inches before taking a snowmobile or ATV on the ice. Late in the season (March-April) is particularly dangerous as ice deteriorates.

Utah Division of Natural Resources

Chavez reminded ice anglers and snowmobilers to check the  individual state park current conditions the day they plan to head out, not the night before. 

“Not only is it a big portion of your safety, but if an ice-fishing tournament has been cancelled, it saves you from driving all the way there and finding some disappointment once you get there,” Chavez said.

He added ice is not uniform across the entire reservoir.

“It’s important to remember . . . just because it’s 9 inches, 10 inches, 15 inches in one place, it could be very well different a couple feet away.”

The State Parks also notify visitors:

Currently registered snowmobiles and snowdogs are allowed on the ice at state parks, but may only access from designated boat ramps. Do so at your own risk. No cars, trucks, vans or SUVs are allowed on the ice. Responsibility for any accidents or problems while using OHVs in state parks rests with the operator.

Chavez also advised that outdoor enthusiasts never go out onto the ice alone. Always let a friend or family member know where you will be and when they should expect to hear from you, the Utah DNR advises.

“Taking every safety precaution possible if you do decide to venture on the ice is paramount, especially not going alone; having someone there to help if you fall in; you help if they fall in — and call for help.”


Police release identity of man who died at Settlement Canyon Reservoir

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What to know before you go out onto lake ice