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Published December 15, 2011, 06:55 PM

Rothsay man recounts rescue from frozen Lake Crystal

Rothsay, MN (WDAY TV) - You won't have to remind Allan Dunbar that he is lucky to be alive today. The Rothsay, Minnesota man survived a brush with death after the ATV he was driving, plunged through the ice on Crystal Lake near Pelican Rapids. Fog delayed the rescue.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

You won't have to remind Allan Dunbar that he is lucky to be alive today. The Rothsay, Minnesota man survived a brush with death after the ATV he was driving, plunged through the ice on Crystal Lake near Pelican Rapids. Fog delayed the rescue. But technology and brave volunteer firefighters saved his life.

Just hours after an icy plunge into Lake Crystal, Allan Dunbar was back out on the lake today, walking with friends on to the ice in search of the ATV he hoped to retrieve from the open water in the middle of the lake.

Allan Dunbar – Rescued: “Had to get my kids back from confirmation, so....”

Allan had just finished ice fishing for the day late Wednesday. Heavy fog had set in. Trying to get to shore he lost his way.

Allan Dunbar: “So foggy, I could not see five feet in front of me.”

So disoriented, Allan didn't see a pressure ridge on the ice. The ATV plunged into open water.

Allan Dunbar: “I jumped and landed on my belly on the ice, crawled for a little bit and stood up.”

In what may have made the difference in surviving or not, Allan's cell phone survived the plunge. He called his wife and 911 and got rescuers on the way.

Allan Dunbar: “I told them, ‘Hey I am out here, but I am worried because it is so foggy I don't know how they are going to find me. I can't see in front of my face.’”

In another ironic twist, Pelican Rapids firefighters were at the fire hall, preparing for.....

Trevor Steeves – Pelican Rapids Chief: “It was our drill night and we were getting ready for cold water rescue training.”

Firefighters got to the lake, and disappeared into the fog

Trevor Steeves: “They pinged him and located him with GPS in the middle of the lake.”

They had trouble finding Allan, who stood wet and freezing, not wanting to take a single step for fear of falling in again.

Allan Dunbar: “That was the scariest thing ever in my life.”

What was so frustrating for Allan was he could hear the firefighters, but they could not hear him, so he stayed on the one thing that did not get wet during the fall thru the ice, the cell phone.

Trevor Steeves: “That cell phone literally saved his life.”

Allan Dunbar: “It is industrial strength, I work construction.Thank God, it was probably a life saver.”

After an hour and a half, rescuers found Allan, cold, shivering, but alive.

Allan Dunbar: “When you are wet in this weather, you are in trouble…Hug your kids.”

There are 9 inches of ice on Lake Crystal, but those familiar with the lakes around Pelican say there's open water in places there has not been in the past. With temperatures fluctuating so much lately, nearly all area lakes have areas of unsafe ice.

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