BUFFALO TOWNSHIP, Minn. (WCCO) — A 61-year-old man is counting his blessings, happy to be alive after his boat capsized while duck hunting.
Gary Veenhuis fell into Pelican Lake in Buffalo Township before sunrise Monday morning. The Albertville man was in the cold water for more than two hours.
Then a stranger came along.
Veenhuis said a speeding boat created a wake that knocked him overboard around 5 a.m. Monday.
When the cover for the duck-hunting boat became soaked, he knew he couldn’t get the boat back over.
Trapped under the water, he quickly dumped his life jacket. He knew he had to fight to stay alive.
“There was enough air between the back end of the seat where I was, that I could get some breaths, did the snaps and got rid of my coat because that was water logged, too,” he said. “I went down pushed things aside and came up on the other side.”
Veenhuis was able to get free and find his boat in total darkness.
Climbing on top of the boat he called for help over and over again. Some 90 minutes later, another duck hunter heard his call.
“The gentlemen found me and I don’t remember anything until coming through at the hospital,” he said.
Veenhuis was able to speak with his rescuer, Ron Bodin, by telephone and quickly learned they met hours before their encounter on the waters of Pelican Lake.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Veenhuis said.
Bodin said he was about a quarter of a mile away from Veenhuis when he heard the call for help.
He hopes to meet Bodin to thank him in person, when he puts his boat back in the water next week.