Posted at: 02/22/2013 2:25 PM
Updated at: 02/22/2013 2:26 PM
Two men died when their snowmobile broke through the ice off Madeline Island sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
The Ashland County Sheriff identified the men as 30-year-old Joshua G. Reynolds of La Pointe and 38-year-old Mark J Backes of La Pointe on Friday.
The men left Bayfield for La Pointe on Madeline Island Wednesday night, but never made it to their destination.
According to DNR officials, emergency crews found them in open water on the island's south channel after they were reported missing Thursday morning.
One man was found just south of the island on the edge of open water. Conservation Warden Dave Oginski said the man was not responsive and pronounced dead in Bayfield. Rescue divers found a second rider dead in the water hours later.
“It's a terrible tragedy. We don't want to see anybody go through these circumstances and people need to know that ice is never safe where ever you're at,” Oginski said.
Oginski said the ice road from Bayfield to Madeline Island is open and marked by pine trees, but the men were found by the island's South Channel.
He says ice in the channel is unpredictable because the current there is notorious for causing thin ice and even open water.
“Whether they ventured off course a little bit or what their intentions were I don't know that at this time,” Oginski said.
The DNR and other agencies continue to investigate the incident.