GRANTSBURG, Wis. (WCCO) — Glenn Rolloff instantly knew something bad was happening when he saw the police and fire trucks speed into his Grantsburg neighborhood. His home is along the meandering and shallow Wood River which is dammed to form Memory Lake.
It wasn’t long before he joined first responders in the search for his neighbor’s little girl.
“It was just a sick feeling,” Rolloff said. “My heart was pounding. I just knew…and hoped she had wandered off into the woods.”
On a small lakeside hill, covered by wildflowers, Ivy Spahn’s memorial captures a town’s intense sadness. Placed under a bright sunflower is the stuffed Teddy bear and puppy, a tribute to the 20-month-old child.
“Little Ivy was a just a joy, not just to the family but to the entire community,” Rolloff said.
He lives next door to the Spahn family on Memory Lake and is also the village president.
He says that around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the toddler was playing in the yard with an older brother and sister.
The children’s father was mowing the grass along the lake when he suddenly noticed his youngest girl missing. The dad began a frantic search around the house and then dialed 911 for help.
“As you can tell, the yard is right next to the water and just in a matter of moments, it just happened,” said Jeff Schinzing, the Grantsburg Police chief.
Police, firefighters and Wisconsin DNR and Burnett County Sheriff’s deputies searched the nearby woods and water for about 45 minutes.
The discovery of Ivy’s body floating downstream was more than many of them could take.
“You could watch the effects not only on the firemen, also the effects on hospital personnel who worked tirelessly to try to do their best to save her,” Schinzing said.
Ivy was pronounced dead at the Burnett Medical Center in Grantsburg.
Now, Memory Lake holds only the bad — a vision of a toddler’s adventure that so quickly turned tragic.
“They re caring, caring parents,” Rolloff said. “I just know this tragedy is going to be tough on all of us.”