Officials: Avoid overreaction to pond crashMayor, public safety chief say no additional safety needed.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
Following a fatal incident Thursday, Mitchell city officials do not think any additional safety measures are needed around the pond near the mega-outdoors Cabela’s store in Mitchell.
Jane Virginia Strong, 61, of rural Mitchell, was found dead Thursday after her vehicle plunged into the pond and became submerged. Eyewitnesses said the vehicle traveled at high rates of speed and never used brakes, but the cause of the incident remains unknown as investigators await an autopsy report.
Mitchell Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg said Monday that any additional safety measures for the pond are at the discretion of Cabela’s, but he does not believe any are needed.
“This accident was out of the ordinary,” he said. “The pond is quite a ways from the road and they do have throw-rings present around the pond.”
Overweg said his department has never had a similar safety issue with the pond.
Cabela’s built its Mitchell store in 2000. The pond is between 18 and 30 feet deep. The store uses the pond for a few fishing tournaments each year, which are open to the public. Otherwise, the pond is used to test boats sold at the store.
Joe Arterburn, Cabela’s corporate communications manager, said nothing prevents the public from using the pond for fishing or other recreation, even though it is privately owned by Cabela’s.
“It’s kind of there as a feature of the store. It’s for customer enjoyment,” he said. “As long as it’s not abused or dangerous, we don’t mind people enjoying the scenery.”
Arterburn said Cabela’s officials are unsure what, if any, changes they will make to the pond following Thursday’s incident.
Mitchell Mayor Ken Tracy said although the accident last week was unfortunate, officials and the public should not overreact to the situation.
“We’ve not had any issues with it in the past,” he said of the pond. “Compare it to Lake Mitchell. We don’t fence that off. There’s no need for fencing off the pond at Cabela’s.”