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Group rescued after driving SUV onto ice in Virginia

January 3, 2018 at 12:53 PM

A group of young people drove an SUV onto a partially frozen part of the Potomac River in Loudoun County on Monday and became stuck after the ice gave way.

No one was seriously hurt in the New Year's Day incident, according to Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Department officials.

The ice gave way and the SUV became "stuck near the shoreline," the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. "Fortunately everyone inside the vehicle was able to exit safely."

The SUV had to be towed from the river near Algonkian Regional Park.

Severely cold weather is expected to hit the East Coast for the rest of this week. A major storm that is being called a "bomb cyclone" is expected to bring ice and snow from Florida to Maine.

For the D.C. region, forecasters are calling for a possible coating of snow and then very cold temperatures and strong winds.

Related: [D.C.-area forecast: Light coating of snow possible tonight, then punishing cold and wind]

Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman (R) reminded people that skating on frozen ponds is prohibited and said that parents who live near waterways should remind their children about the "dangers of walking and playing on frozen ponds and rivers."

The Sheriff's Office warned that while ice may seem thick enough to walk on, "the actual strength of the ice may be far les than it appears particularly when temperatures exceed the freezing mark."

Officials gave tips on what to do if you are in a situation where someone falls through the ice:

First, stay calm and call 911. Do not go into the water or on the ice, because you, too, could fall. Try to extend a tree branch or rope to the person who has fallen. And if a dog or another animal falls through the ice, do not go after it.

"If the ice did not support the animal, it will not take your weight," said Loudoun County Fire Chief W. Keith Brower.

Dana Hedgpeth is a Washington Post reporter, working in the early morning to report on traffic, crime and other local issues. She joined The Post in 1999.

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