Man dies after falling through ice


BEMIDJI, Minn. (WCCO) – Despite the falling temperatures, some lakes remain unsafe this late in December.

On Christmas Eve, John Herman Klasen III’s truck went through the ice as he fished on Lake Bemidji.

“Losing a family member that close to the holidays, it’s devastating for everybody,” his granddaughter, Sarah Dixon, said.

Dixon described her grandfather as an outdoorsman who loved to ride his motorcycle and spend time with his big family.

“After I found out the truck that fell into Lake Bemidji was my grandpa’s truck, I couldn’t help but just cry,” she said.

Authorities said the 69-year-old was in his vehicle when it fell through the ice around 5:30 p.m. Dixon said he was with his girlfriend who made it out of the vehicle safely.

Investigators estimate the ice was 4 to 5 inches thick at the location the vehicle went through.

“He thought maybe because it’s been so cold there would be enough ice,” Dixon said.

He’s the first person to die on Minnesota lakes this winter season.

“This year, Lake Bemidji was about two weeks behind when it normally freezes over,” Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Jarrett Walton said.

The DNR does not measure ice thickness, leaving it your responsibility.

For general guidance on ice thickness and safety, click here.

Kirsten Mitchell

Kirsten Mitchell joined the WCCO team as a reporter in November of 2021. A Saint Paul native, Kirsten is proud to tell stories in her home state. She…More from Kirsten Mitchell