The Ottumwa Courier

March 5, 2013

Teen’s stepfather warns of ice dangers

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

BLOOMFIELD — Rick Lindsey’s stepson was just a few weeks shy of his 17th birthday when tragedy struck the family

His stepson, Tyler Steele, died March 6, 2011, after he fell through some ice and hypothermia took over.

Two years later, Lindsey hopes to remind southeast Iowans of the dangers of ice, especially when one thinks the long-lasting winter weather would suggest ice coverage is safe.

Lindsey recalled the day when Tyler fell through the ice and he succumbed to the cold water.

Bloomfield police believe Tyler had been walking on the ice to retrieve some archery arrows when he fell through the ice.

Since the accident and his stepson’s death, Lindsey has often wished he had told Tyler and his friends to stay off the ice.

“There’s no ordinance to tell you when it’s safe and when it’s not safe to be on the ice,” he said.

The world’s climate continues to change, and Lindsey said “people don’t realize” it doesn’t take the sun long to change the thickness of the ice.

And it isn’t just the young people going through the ice, he added.

“About a month ago there was a man, age 62, up north who went through the ice,” Lindsey said. “So it’s not just the kids — everyone should be aware, especially when four-wheelers go out on ice.”

Lindsey also wants more ice danger preparedness from local and area emergency responders who he argues were not prepared for someone to go through the ice.

“Make sure you have an emergency plan,” Lindsey said. “If you play on the ice, go in a group and set up a plan of action.”

He also suggested taking equipment like ropes and floating devices.

Chief Tony Miller of Ottumwa Fire Department said that there are rules about ice and how thick it is or isn’t.

“And if there are cracks in the ice or you walk on the ice and it doesn’t feel right, then that’s a good sign not to go,” he said. “With recent warmer weather, the ice will melt quickly.”

Lindsey said his biggest thing is for people to hug their kids every day.

“You never know when they will leave you,” he said.