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Semi-trailer falls through lake ice in Dunn County

Saturday evening, truck driver John Sohn got lost and tried to turn his rig around only to find out that what he thought was a field was actually the ice of Skunk Creek Bay.

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A truck driver accidentally drove his semi-trailer into Lake Sakakawea at Skunk Creek Bay on Saturday. (Contributed / Dunn County Sheriff's Office)

DUNN COUNTY, N.D. — At 8:17 p.m. Saturday, first responders were dispatched to an area of Lake Sakakawea where a man accidentally drove his semi-trailer onto the ice and got stuck, Dunn County Sheriff Gary Kuhn said. The driver, John Sohn, escaped the vehicle safely, was examined by paramedics and released that night. Sohn was driving for the Dickinson-based oilfield company, Pale Horse Services.

Kuhn said it was a water tanker with an empty tank, and there was no major fluid loss and thus, water pollution is of little concern at present time. Although the vehicle did fall through the ice, it did not fully submerge and was later removed with a winch truck Sunday evening, according to authorities.

The Dunn County Sherriff's Office stated that Sohn got lost and believed he was turning around in a field, which turned out to be the ice of Skunk Creek Bay on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Since the incident occurred on tribal land, it is under investigation by the Three Affiliated Tribes. Kuhn did confirm that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers were notified of the incident.

Pale Horse Services’ Head of Operations Lane Rossow declined to comment to inquiries by the media. In a statement, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation Chairman Mark Fox noted the truck was removed from the water, but said the group will not provide further comment until the conclusion of its investigation.

Driving in frigid conditions poses increased risks to drivers. The North Dakota Highway Patrol has a list of recommendations for safe winter travel such as doubling your following distance at 8 to 10 seconds, from the usual 4 seconds. They recommend to not use cruise control when driving on roads with compacted snow or ice. Accelerate and slow down gradually.

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They also advise keeping an emergency travel kit stocked with a shovel, flashlight with extra batteries, food, water, first aid kit and jumper cables. In the event you do get stuck, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said it's best to call 911 and stay in the vehicle. Clear snow away from the exhaust. Only run the engine sporadically, for as long as it takes to stay warm to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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