LAKE GENEVA — Drivers of about two dozen vehicles failed to heed a cautionary sign when they parked on Geneva Lake Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, and soon found their vehicles slowly sinking into the lake. About ten vehicles were considered total losses, according to Lake Geneva police.
Downtown Lake Geneva was unusually busy as crowds flocked to see the annual U.S. Nationals Snow Sculpting Competition along the lakefront at the Riviera Boathouse and Flatiron Park.
Rather than risk antagonizing visitors on a busy weekend, the city had shut down the parking meters and promoted a free parking weekend.
As available slots became scarce, however, a few brave souls parked their vehicles on the ice at the Center Street boat ramp, a spot usually occupied by a few ice fisherman who venture farther out on to the lake by foot.
To get onto the lake, drivers had to pass a sign that read, “Warning. Drive on ice at your own risk.”
The first reports of trouble came in about 2 p.m. as the weight of the cars began to sink with the ice.
Many cars were submerged to their sideview mirrors as crowds of onlookers, distracted by the spectacular snow sculptures that were being judged a few hours earlier, gathered around the slowly sinking vehicles.
Larry's Towing was on scene pulling out cars until well into the evening. As of 8 p.m., about five cars still were on the ice.
The Racine Fire Bells, a volunteer group that supports first responders was on scene, as well as an airboat that allowed crews to get safely to the vehicles, according to witnesses as the scene.
No injuries were reported.