‘I can’t believe it:’ Friends, family of Gary Ballweg puzzled by his death on Beaver Dam Lake

FOX LAKE -- A man was killed when his vehicle crashed through the ice and into a Dodge County lake. The victim's brother confirms he was the owner of a popular bar up the road from the lake.

According to the Dodge County Sheriff's Office, around 6:45 a.m. on Monday, March 19, sheriff's deputies responded to the boat launch ramp on Hickory Point Rd. in the Town of Westford. Rescue crew members found a Dodge pickup truck was in the water about 20 yards from the shore. The release from the sheriff's office said a 52-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Fond du lac County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team responded as well; the rescue crew did not find any other victims.

Dodge County sheriff's officials identified the victim as Gary Ballweg on Tuesday.

Outside "The Wharf" on Fox Lake's main drag, the sign simply read "closed until further notice" on Monday, March 19. Inside, Gary Ballweg's brother, Robert, declined to be interviewed but confirmed Gary Ballweg, the longtime owner of the business, died overnight.

Ballweg's truck went through the ice and into Beaver Dam Lake at the end of Hickory Point Rd. James Jones was among several onlookers who stopped by he scene Monday. Jones recalled the first time he met Ballweg -- when Ballweg served him a drink at "The Wharf."

"I turned around to say something to somebody that was talking to me and I turned around to see what they wanted. When I looked back around, he done killed my drink. That quick! He killed it and then he set me up another one and ever since that, we were friends," Jones said.

James Jones

Jones said for the next decade, he and Ballweg would go out and play darts. In fact, he said they were hanging out Sunday afternoon.

"He was just so happy yesterday. I can't believe it," Jones said.

Both Jones and Robert Ballweg said Gary was well known in Fox Lake and willing to help if someone needed it.

"For people that never met him, you go in that bar, if you leave a stranger, it's your own fault," Jones said.

How his life ended in the lake he knew so well is the question the Dodge County Sheriff's Office is trying to answer. Dodge County Dale Schmidt said Monday afternoon investigators are waiting for the results of the autopsy. Schmidt confirmed investigators believe the driver was the only person inside the truck.