By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN
SANDWICH — Four people in a minivan narrowly avoided a tragic end on Tuesday night, when their minivan lost control after hitting a patch of ice on Squam Lake Road, left the roadway and landed on the frozen surface of Squam Lake. The vehicle's occupants sustained only minor injuries, as the van remained upright throughout the ordeal and, though the force of the van's impact broke the ice, the ice was still thick enough to support the weight of the vehicle.
Sandwich Fire Chief Ted Call said that around 6 p.m., a minivan was traveling north on Squam Lake Road, between the intersections with Sabine Point Road and Range Road. There is a particular stretch of pavement there, just after a crest in the road, that is prone to ice, said Call, likely due to either run off from melting snow or a natural spring. Temperatures fell enough on Tuesday night for the roadway to freeze, and when the minivan hit that stretch of road, it lost control, struck the snowbank on the opposite side of the road and was launched about 50 feet, landing on Squam Lake.
Though the van landed not far from shore, the bank there is steep, said Call, and the water is about eight feet deep in that spot. There was more than a foot of ice there, and the van broke the ice but never sank. Call said his department's crew members, assisted by Stewart's Ambulance, were able to rescue all four occupants from the vehicle. One of the occupants, in a wheelchair, was rescued using a litter designed for mountain rescues.
All four occupants of the vehicle were transported with minor injuries.
Call said drivers should exercise caution, especially on the stretch of Squam Lake Road between Range Road and the Moultonborough town line, where the road is both subject to water from snow melt and is in close proximity to the lake.
"It's just a spot on that road that happens to have that hazard there, we potentially could have several more (similar accidents)."
Ice and water flowed over a stretch of Squam Lake Road in Sandwich on Wednesday morning. On Tuesday evening, the water froze, and the four occupants of a minivan were fortunate to escape with minor injuries after the van careened off the road and fell onto the frozen surface of Squam Lake. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)