I understand the emotion behind Bryce Keller’s guest column, “Fired up over Ice,” (Sierra Sun Jan. 29) as a sudden death like this in our community stirs up a lot of emotion and worry because of it’s closeness to all of us.
Donner Lake is a prime outlet for all of us in the community and it sits as a point of focus to us in summer and winter. I see that the attraction of ice is foreign to must of us, especially if you grew up in California like I have, but the beauty and pleasure of ice skating is a real activity for many people and being able to skate on natural ice is a wonderful outlet. As we have a winter like this one, ice forms on the ponds and lakes and many people who have a life-long history of skating come out to enjoy it with their families and friends.
Being new to skating I have taken the time to ask my fellow ice skaters for education and followed my own fear to be careful and examine the ice, skate with partners and use safety equipment. There are many people in our community that have grown up skating and I have found they are very willing to share their knowledge openly to educate beginners on safety.
I recognize there is unprocessed grief and sadness with such a recent event and fear for other community members who don’t know the intricacies of ice and winter safety while skating. This is a normal reaction when faced with death, which needs to be acknowledged in order to move into a healing place. With this we all need to recognize the inherent dangers in skating on ponds and lakes and educate ourselves on how to do this safely.
A great outlet from this experience may be to create a winter safety course through the Fire and Rescue program to bring in local people and educate our community on conditions, risks, and general safety equipment that people use while ice skating. It would give a chance for our community to build bridges and allow our local rescue people a chance to share information and potentially learn from community members who have a wealth of experience.
Just in the last few days I have seen several rescue-equipped skaters enjoying natural ice and have learned new techniques for ice skating safely. One father and daughter team even wore life jackets, carried rope, and each held an ice spike to use in case of emergency. Another creative person had an inner tube with a rope tied to it on shore that he used when exploring a new place. As I have learned this year there is a lot to know about ice and skating safely and a great wealth of local knowledge imported to the area to serve you. Just skate up to your neighbor and ask.
The bottom line is that we need to be responsible for ourselves and be cautious in our endeavors and continue to have fun enjoying the world and our lives. I realize that it must have been difficult for rescue personnel to see large groups of people skating in a safer area on the lake while search and rescue was performing a body recovery on another portion of the lake, but it seems no different than that odd feeling I had during the summer when search and rescue was doing the same for a boater who had drowned while the lake was full of people boating.
So let’s mourn our loss, educate our community, and share the blessing we have to share. Thanks rescue personnel for being here for everyone and thank you to everyone I have met ice skating for educating me on the joy of skating.