Rescue crews began searching for a man in the partially frozen Lake Ponderosa Saturday evening and continued through Sunday. On Sunday evening, officials were forced to suspend their search.
The thin ice covering Lake Ponderosa became too dangerous for divers and the recovery teams searching for the man’s body. Until the ice on the lake thaws, the search for the man who fell through will have to be suspended indefinitely, according to the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office.
Crews have not found the man but they have found the four-wheeler he was riding when he fell through the ice.
On Saturday night, neighbors waited along the shoreline hoping for a rescue. On Sunday, they waited for a recovery.
“It’s all I thought about this morning,” said Lake Ponderosa resident, Jim Awtry.
He’s spent hours watching the rescue crews. His eyes stay fixed on the gaping hole in the ice.
“It’s very difficult watching the search and rescue,” he said.
But he can’t seem to look away. It’s too personal.
“We’re really tight around here. He lived right across the road from me,” he said.
Awtry said his friend was a good guy and that he saw him on the lake in good spirits just hours before the man fell in.
“He’s a really happy guy. I’m gonna miss him. A lot of people around here are gonna miss him,” he said.
He said ice fishing is second nature for almost anyone who lives on the lake and they usually are careful, but what happened yesterday serves as a reminder of the danger.
“It really woke me up. I know I’m gonna think about it a little more next time,” he said.
For now, Jim will practice his patience. He’ll keep waiting. It’s the least he can do.
“I’m here for him. I’m sure he’d want me to be here,” he said.