ALTA VISTA -- A community along the edge of Last Mountain Lake is using a recent example of a side-by-side going through the ice as a reminder to be careful on the ice as mild temperatures bring more people onto the frozen water.

According to residents of Alta Vista, a hamlet across the lake from Regina Beach, a man returning home from ice fishing hit a thin patch of ice in his side by side near the shore, heading into the water.

In the process, the driver hit his head, requiring a trip to the hospital, but otherwise made it out okay.

Later, Don Whitrow and several others were able to pull the machine from the lake.

“There was a gentleman with a vehicle on the shore with a towstrap, and he started pulling it but then he got to a point where he couldn’t move it anymore,” Whitrow told CTV News. “So we went over with out side-by-sides and winched him back.”

Although no one was seriously hurt, the community is using this as a reminder to be careful when navigating the ice as people take advantage of mild winter weather for activities like ice fishing.

Whitrow suspects those temperatures are likely a factor in creating more thin patches around Last Mountain Lake than usual.

“It’s to a point where a person’s got to be real careful,” Whitrow said. “As long as you stay away from the pressure ridges you’re probably alright because there’s 16, 18 inches of ice. But if you get by the pressure ridges it’s like three or four inches in places.”

John Maczko with Amphibious Response Support Unit One, often called in to assist with ice and water rescues in Saskatchewan, says it’s always important to check the thickness of the ice while keeping in mind that some patches might be more thin than others.

“We do see a lot more snowmobiles, a lot more four by fours and other all terrain vehicles going on the ice probably at times when they shouldn’t,” Maczko said. “It is very common at the edges of lakes, also in areas where there may be a current which is brushing against the ice and weakening that ice considerably.”

Maczko adds last winter, ARSU One responded to 20 plus calls at lakes in the Qu’Appelle Valley alone, including Last Mountain Lake – and that was a winter that saw much colder temperatures by this point in the season.