Culpeper’s frozen lake a danger

A frozen lake may look like an inviting winter playground, but it could easily become a deathtrap.

Town of Culpeper officials recently noticed foot tracks in the snow on top of frozen Lake Pelham. Some of the tracks extended 100 yards or more into the lake.

If someone fell through the ice, local officials warn, they would almost surely die.

“The thickness of the ice can vary,” said Assistant Town Manager Chris Hively. “Changing temperatures will also impact the thickness of the ice, meaning the ice could be thicker one place and thinner another.”

Culpeper County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association President Anthony Clatterbuck noted the closest agency with the proper training and equipment to conduct a rescue on the frozen lake is in Woodbridge, which is more than an hour away.

“We would not be conducting a rescue,” said Clatterbuck, “We would be recovering a body.”

None of the local volunteer agencies or the paid EMS paramedics has the capability to conduct a rescue on ice.

The town’s boat used to inspect the lake is not capable of cutting through the ice to affect a rescue.

“You take your life in your hands if you want to venture onto the ice,” said Interim Culpeper County Emergency Services Director Warren Jenkins. “It is very, very dangerous to walk on the ice.”

Town of Culpeper officials note that it also is a crime to trespass on the town’s lakes as well as not smart.

“We are asking parents to monitor their children, who may head to the lake,” said Public Works Director Jim Hoy. “The message is clear, please stay off the lake.”