MANKATO — A woman who fell into the Minnesota River while attempting to rescue her dog is lucky her cellphone could still be used after she was able to get to shore.
She was able to call 911 at 12:20 p.m. Monday. Rescuers used her cellphone signal to help find her in a wooded area next to the river near the Kiwanis Recreation Area off Highway 169, said Lt. Scott LeBrun of the Mankato Department of Public Safety.
The signal was triangulated with three cellphone towers to show her approximate location. Firefighters and police officers were able to get to an area where they could hear her yelling.
"If she wouldn't have been able to get her cellphone working, this would be a whole different story," he said.
The woman, who LeBrun wasn't able to identify by name Monday, was taken to the hospital to be treated for hypothermia. A firefighter wearing an ice rescue suit was able to get the dog, which was barely able to keep its head above water where it had gone through the ice about 25 feet from the shore.
That dog and another dog the woman was walking were taken to a pet hospital to be treated. The dog that was still in the water was alive when it was pulled from the river, but LeBrun wasn't sure it would survive. Both dogs were doberman pinschers.
"The dog was in rough shape, but he was breathing and moving around a bit," LeBrun said.
The woman was walking the dogs when one of them went out too far on the ice and fell through. She was apparently attempting to help the dog when she and the other dog also fell through, LeBrun said. They were able to get out of the water before the woman called 911.
They were about a quarter mile away from the rest area in the park and in a wooded area. Without the cellphone, the woman wouldn't have been able to call for help, and it could have taken much more time for rescuers to find her if someone else heard her yelling and called for help.
LeBrun was able to drive his truck some distance into the wooded area, which also made it easier for firefighters and police officers to get the woman and dogs to the hospitals more quickly.
LeBrun reminds the public that the ice is unstable due to the warm weather. Firefighters and police are recommending staying off of it.
River ice is potentially more dangerous than lake ice because the water below it is moving. If a pet or another person you are with goes through the ice, firefighters recommend calling 911.