LAKE GENEVA - Lake Geneva police believe it was combination of sunshine and warmer temperatures Saturday that caused the ice under 15 vehicles to crack shortly after 2 p.m..
Fortunateley, no one was in the vehicles as they partially submerged. As of 10 pm, there were still three vehicles under water. Two towing companies were helping the fire department since these cars began sinking, but some drivers decided not to wait.
Watertown’s Jason St. Germaine didn't walk, he ran to the lake after a loud speaker announcement said cars on the ice were sinking.
“It was kinda, it was kinda scary," St. Germaine said. “There’s probably four cars in front of us trying to get out and I’m actually nervous that there’s so many cars close to each other on the edge there that were gonna break through.”
With thousands in town for Lake Geneva's Winter Fest and the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition, parking was difficult. So drivers took advantage of the open space.
Matthew Demko said he wasn’t concerned about parking on the ice, even though Saturday was mild.
"It was a great spot to go and park … No, I wasn't very concerned because I seen all the people out there. I seen the cars on the there so for me it was OK,” Demko said after his car became partially submerged.
Julie Rowe thought the same thing.
“I just had angels , angels watching over me. I know it," Rowe said.
She was especially glad she was able to rescue her own car because it held special significance.
“My mom passed away about six months ago and it was her car," Rowe said.
Divers called for a tow company that specializes in these types of extractions. A few hours in, they already had half the vehicles out.
“The divers have indicated that most of them are resting on the ice that they were on top of, so the weight of the vehicle’s pushing them down at certain angles," said Lake Geneva Police Lt. Ed Gritzner.
Amidst some award winning snow sculptures, the mess on the lake was an even bigger spectacle.
“Like I said, just terrifying and just, you know, thank the Lord that no one was in any of the cars," said Lindsay Urbaitis of Twin Lakes.
Urbaities was here with her friend's daughter. The 16 year old was driving her dad's Suburban, which was one of the last to be pulled out. Unfortunately she hadn’t yet mustered up the courage to call and tell him yet.