PARK RAPIDS, Minn.-A Park Rapids man was hospitalized and his wife is also recovering after the couple went through the ice on their ATV and into the frigid water for about 25 minutes while going ice fishing last weekend on Little Sand Lake near Park Rapids in northwest Minnesota.
Jason Funk, 46, was in a Fargo hospital with hypothermia conditions that included an increased heart rate and kidney concerns before being released Thursday, while his wife, Holly Funk, 41, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Park Rapids and released after the incident on the lake about seven miles northeast of town last Sunday about 4 p.m.
The ice was only about two inches thick and the lake about 30 feet deep where the incident occurred.
Holly Funk described the situation in a Facebook post:: "When we were halfway out to the middle of the lake, our four-wheeler and little trailer fell through the ice. We were in open water and I had a helmet on. I threw it off as Jason and I were separated. After a bit and the ice breaking away from me three times, we were able to stabilize ourselves on the edge. Jason went under three times in the process. I screamed with all my might and prayed very boldly and loudly and two people across the lake heard me and called for help."
Hubbard County deputies arrived at the nearby public access, along with first responders, and began rescue operations.
A deputy put on a cold water suit and along with a private citizen they were able to get the two individuals out of the water.
Sheriff Cory Aukes said the deputy grabbed onto the couple and pulled them out of the water, while others assisting hung onto them with ropes and pulled them to safety.
Holly Funk also shared on Facebook that "after 25 minutes, God placed very brave, amazing angels in our path and God held us until they were able to pull us from the water."
She was taken to the Park Rapids hospital, also suffering from hypothermia, said the sheriff, but her husband was in "substantially worse shape" and had to be airlifted to a Fargo hospital.
"He went under water multiple times," the sheriff said.
Holly Funk added in her post that her husband was "doing amazing... spirits are high. I am posting this as I cannot bear to tell this story and my dear children cannot either. I am so grateful for life!"
The sheriff said he has issued a public safety warning about lakes in the area.
"Ice conditions are very good and very poor," said Aukes. "The ice thickness is inconsistent. With the weather we've been having, it's just a little bit too early" to be safe on all lakes.
As for Little Sand Lake, he urged residents to stay off the lake and remember that "lake ice is never truly safe."