Hungry Mother Park official gives stern warning: Stay off the ice
The beauty and spectacle are enticing but an official at Hungry Mother State Park is warning visitors to the Smyth County site to stay off frozen waters.
Park Manager Nate Clark issued the notice as the region continues consecutive days of below-freezing temperatures and dangerous wind chills that have turned their 108-acre lake into an ice rink.
"There are grave dangers of walking on frozen lakes and waterways when temperatures stay around freezing. Walking on ice is not permitted at the park, and will be enforced. There is no way to safely judge the thickness and load bearing of the ice, and emergency management teams do not have adequate equipment or training to conduct an ice rescue," said Clark.
Town of Marion spokesperson Ken Heath noted 15 minutes is the maximum time a person can expect to survive after entering freezing waters and under the best circumstances, an emergency response would take longer than that.
"Hypothermia isn't something to play with, and these arctic surface temps and subzero wind chills expedite severe injury and death, not only for the person falling through the ice, but also for rescuers if things go badly," Heath said in the statement.