A Winnipeg family said they want to remind others to be careful after their teenage son fell through the ice on the Seine River Sunday.
Nolan, 14, his sister, 11, his father and his mother Niki Card were walking the nearby park trails Sunday afternoon when the trail ended.
“We ended up walking on the river, which we didn’t question the safety of,” said Niki.
Nolan’s sister found a patch of ice that looked different than the rest of the river, said Niki.
“Funny enough, she was just drawn to it, like she started to go right to it,” she said, adding the ice was greyish.
“I had read things about ice safety and specifically about ice colour recently … I stopped her from going.”
Nolan was poking the ice nearby with a stick when he fell through, to just above his waist.
“I tried to get a knee up out of the ice, and it broke the first time I did it, and the second time I was able, it didn’t break and my dad also pulled me up,” said Nolan.
Lorne Edwards of the Lifesaving Society of Manitoba said the grey colour was definitely a warning.
“She mentioned seeing sort of a greyish colour on the ice, so when you see grey, that typically indicates the presence of water,” said Edwards, meaning the ice is not solid.
“White also indicates there could be some instability there.”
The best ice is a clear, blue colour or black, said Edwards.
Nolan said he wasn’t scared at the time, nor was he upset later, but his parents were a different story.
“A few hours later, the adrenaline wears off and we realize how lucky we were,” said Niki.
“You know, we get out, we walk to the car, everything’s fine. And he really is fine. But we realize how lucky we were. And your mind does all the ‘what ifs.’ And a couple hours later, we were — both my husband and I were pretty emotional.”
The family likely won’t be avoiding ice in the future, as they like to skate, said Niki. However, she said it has changed their perspective.
“We’ll definitely be more aware and probably hesitate… maybe that would be the more responsible thing to simply say we weren’t going on ice again, but I honestly don’t know.”
Niki said the family has been skating already this year, including on retention ponds in their neighbourhood.
The City of Winnipeg has warned in the past about skating on retention ponds.
“Retention ponds are never safe to use for winter recreation activities as ice conditions can change quickly without warning,” said a spokesperson with the city.
“Water from snowmelt or nearby water main breaks can drain into retention ponds. This water is often mixed with street salts, which can cause ice to melt and thin unevenly. This water enters retention ponds from underneath the ice, resulting in thinning of ice that can’t be seen from the surface.”
Things like hockey nets should not be placed on ice, nor should dogs be allowed to run on ice unleashed.
The city has opened a number of hockey rinks and people are encouraged to use those instead of skating on rivers and ponds, said the spokesperson.
“So far this year (as of Dec. 28), the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service has responded to 260 water/ice rescue calls for service, compared to 152 last year.”