Having moved to Minnesota from Florida, my scariest aquatic experience involved a water temperature below 80 degrees, until Tuesday. I put on a protective “mustang” suit, ready for a mock water rescue in icy Lake Minnetonka with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol. Not yet at ice’s edge, I was already panic stricken. I can’t imagine this as my job.
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.
Two collided on Wayzata Bay on Lake Minnetonka Sunday morning, resulting in a two-year-old boy being knocked overboard. According to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office, two boats – both approximately 22-feet-long – struck each other while traveling the in the same direction 200 feet from shore before 10 a.m. One boat was described as a runabout, and the other a deck boat. The runabout had four passengers, including the boy who was thrown in to the lake on impact. He was wearing a life jacket, and was pulled from the water by his father.
As the ice comes off more Minnesota lakes, safety officials are highlighting Saturday’s start to National Safe Boating Week. The St. Paul District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the best thing a person can do to stay safe on the water is to wear a life vest or personal flotation device.
With this weekend’s mini warm up, officials want to warn everyone to be careful on area lakes. Freezing and thawing are making ice conditions unsafe.
Less than a month into summer and there have been several drownings on Minnesota waterways. The latest numbers from the Department of Natural Resources show 25 drownings since May, six of which happened on boats. In every boating case, the victim wasn’t wearing a life jacket.