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'Bad time to blow a transmission'
Off-road mishap grows into story of the weekend

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A story of a jeep stuck in the ice on Yellowknife Bay buzzed through the grapevine over the sunny days of the weekend, but reality doesn't quite match up to the tall tale circulating around town says the vehicle's owner.

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Todd Paget estimates the slush was between one and two feet deep where his Jeep broke down. - Laura Busch/NNSL photo

Todd Paget said what did happen is his brand new green 2013 Jeep Sport Wrangler blew its transmission on Friday afternoon while he was driving along the shore of Yellowknife Bay. He was not trying to cross the bay on the Dettah ice road, he insists.

"It's a great spot to off-road and get in the mud," said Paget, adding he doesn't recommend anyone use the spot who isn't familiar with off-road driving on ice and deep slush.

"It was a bad spot to blow a transmission."

Paget said he'd been driving the 4x4 vehicle "pretty hard," to see what the new Jeep could do.

Eventually the vehicle started to smoke and stopped dead, with the front end in one to two feet of slush. When it was clear the Jeep wasn't moving anywhere, Paget retrieved a winch to pull the vehicle back near the road at the viewing area near the access point to the Dettah ice road.

"I never used that access point to get on the lake," he said. "I believe that would have been illegal."

With the number of children, picnickers and, by that point, crowding spectators, with some estimates putting the number up to 150, Paget said he decided it wasn't safe to winch the car to shore and waited until Saturday to do so.

Meanwhile, cell phone cameras flashed away, along with people's imaginations.

At its peak, the story circulating the city was that a driver attempting to traverse the Dettah ice road had fallen right through to the icy depths of Great Slave Lake.

Paget said two different RCMP officers stopped by to check on Paget, explaining the detachment had received calls of someone in trouble after their car fell through the Dettah ice road.

On land Monday afternoon, Paget showed Yellowknifer how he could rev the Jeep's engine but it wouldn't move an inch. The Jeep was headed to the shop that evening for repairs.

The Dettah Ice Road had officially closed for the season as of 3 p.m. on April 17.

As a result, a driver using the road could be charged $750 as well as a victim surcharge of $112, bringing the total to $862.

A victim surcharge is calculated at 15 per cent of a fine and is used by territorial and provincial governments to pay for programs, services and assistance to victims of crime in their jurisdiction.

There are, however, no laws regarding the use of ice around the ice roads, such as when the area is used for ice fishing or off-road driving.

"No law but the law of common sense," explained Earl Blacklock, the Department of Transportation's manager of public affairs and communication.

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