GREAT FALLS — The body of a man who was ice fishing and fell through the ice into a river was recovered in Sanders County on Saturday, February 10, 2024.
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The Sanders County Sheriff's Office identified the man as Jim Chambers, who lived in the Trout Creek area.
Chambers was reported missing after he failed to return home on February 8, according to Sheriff Shawn Fielders.
Investigators found his belongings on and around the ice, along with his nearby vehicle.
Initial recovery efforts were not successful due to unsafe conditions and darkness, and the Sheriff's Office received assistance from Sanders County Search and Rescue and the Flathead County Sheriff Office Specialized Divers.
The man's body was finally recovered on Saturday afternoon.
Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks provides the following information about safety while ice fishing:
- Check the weather
- Tell someone where you're going.
- Bring a friend - for company and safety.
- Look for signs that others have been out on the ice first. Never be first on the ice!
- Check ice thickness and clarity - there should be at least 4-6 inches of clear ice
- If there's snow on the ice, use caution. It can hide the ice condition.
- Don't approach open water.
- Stay clear of pressure ridges and/or large cracks.
- Be extra cautious around areas that can make ice weaker such as docks and other structures. inlets and outlets, and springs.
- Spread out if you have a big group.
You can't determine how thick the ice is by looking. Drill a test hole and measure it to make sure it's safe. Recommended minimum ice thickness guidelines for good, clear ice:
- Under 4 inches: STAY OFF
- 4 inches: Ice fishing or other activities on foot
- 7 inches: Snowmobile or ATV
- 10 inches: Small car (not recommended, but if you must, proceed at your own risk)
- 12 inches: Larger vehicle (not recommended, but if you must, proceed at your own risk)