Pickup pulled from icy grave

Fishermen reeled in a lunker from Lake Vermilion the other day — a GMC pickup truck.

Their big catch was caught on video, which of course has made its way to YouTube.

The backstory: Melissa Hahney is known around Greenwood Township in northern Minnesota as an avid fisherwoman. She’d driven onto Lake Vermilion, parked her truck and portaged to Trout Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

She was heading home March 17 when the drama began. It had been a warm day, with the temperature soaring nearly 20 degrees above normal to 53 in nearby Cook.

“It was such a warm day and the ice was getting thinner,” said Ellen Trancheff, the Greenwood Township town clerk. “About 150 feet off Moccasin Point, the truck went through.”

Luckily for Hahney, the truck didn’t plunge all the way through the ice, at least right away. She had time to get out safely.

Her pickup wasn’t so fortunate. First the front end sagged through the ice. That evening, the entire vehicle sank about 14 feet to the bottom.

Minnesota law requires owners of sunken vehicles to remove them within 48 hours. That’s where the Greenwood Township Fire Department, Armory Shell Towing in Virginia and Dave’s Dive in Tower enter the picture.

By Friday morning, the water had refrozen over the truck’s resting place. The towing crew cut holes in the ice. A diver attached a cable to the truck. And the fire department’s air boat helped break up the ice.

Towing a 4,500-pound truck through ice is a big job. The tow cable broke twice. But eventually, the team landed their catch.

It’s up to the truck owner’s insurance company to decide what to do with the soggy pickup.


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  • Michael

    The Dirty Jobs show did a whole segment on this kind of thing (shot in Northern Minn) a year or two back. Pretty cool (in many senses of the word).

  • Shane

    I wonder if anyone tried to start it…or maybe the engine was…flooded…? Wow. That almost hurt to type!