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Don't Let the Beauty of Lake Michigan's Ice Mounds Lure You

Susan Bence

Milwaukee County Sup. Patricia Jursik has seen boot prints on the mounds and recalls a boy losing his life there, one of the last times they formed.

Jursik says most winters don't produce ice mounds along the Lake Michigan shoreline but this winter's conditions have been perfect.  So she repeats the story she and other South Shore parents told their children in the 1980s, about an accident in Cudahy.

"A man was walking along the shores of Sheridan Park when several boys ran to him shouting that their friend was in trouble and needed help. The man followed the boys and saw that the children had been playing along the shore and had climbed the ice mounds. He climbed to the top and saw a young boy had slipped off. The water was only up to his waist, but because the wave action had washed out the underside of the ice build-up, there was no way the boy could climb out.

"The man lay on the ice and reached out to the child. The boy tried to reach too but was already feeling the effects of hypothermia and soon he slipped away under the water. The man knew he could not get the boy without going into the water, but going in the water meant death for two. There was no way for the boy to get out. The man looked around for a rope or some way to reach first responders. All of it was too late.

The distraught man talked to the boy’s mother after his body was recovered about how futile any efforts had been. The mother replied that the only good to be obtained by her son’s death was in warning other children of the danger of playing at the water’s edge in winter," Jursik recounts.

The supervisor says this winter has produced incredible beauty along the lake -- glittering mounds of ice and snow against the steely blue water.

She says it can be difficult to resist, especially for children, but some individuals have climb stop ice mounds extending well out onto the lake.