MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Two children are dead and another is in critical condition after a boat capsized on Clearwater Lake in northern Minnesota Friday afternoon, according to the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office.

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s office received a report of capsized both with three children unaccounted for at about 3:15 p.m. Friday. The report indicated a father and three small children, ages 2, 6 and 8 years old, were in the boat when it capsized. The father then swam to shore and summoned help.

Deputies and emergency responders from both Beltrami and Clearwater counties immediately responded. With the help of many other assisting agencies, the three children were removed and taken to area hospitals. CPR was in progress when they were taken.

Family members WCCO-TV that 2-year-old Jacob Risland and 6-year-old boy Zechariah Risland have died in the accident. 8-year-old Isaiah Risland airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis and is currently listed in critical condition. The father of the three children is also at Children’s Hospital.

Clearwater County Sheriff Mike Erickson said all three children were wearing life jackets when the boat capsized. Their father, identified as Dan Risland of Leonard, Minn., told authorities that strong winds toppled over his small sailboat.

He tried to get the three children to shore after the boat capsized, but ran into difficulty because of winds and current that were both too strong. Risland then decided to leave the three children in the water with their life jackets on and go get help. He swam to shore and found a truck driver that called 911, authorities said.

“According to his statement, he lined the kids up in a row, and headed them for shore, got into a chain behind him he said, attempting to swim to shore but wasn’t gaining any distance with the boys, so he had to make a decision to leave them and get to shore quicker to get some help for them as fast as he could,” Erickson said.

“Dan did everything he could to save those boys, those boys were his world,” said Sara Staley, the boys’ aunt who says Dan Risland broke into a boathouse and in desperation took a boat to try and row out to the boys before rescuers arrived.

She is writing updates on Isaiah’s condition on her Facebook page.

The lake is about 20 miles from first responders, so it took emergency crews time to get to the scene.

By the time crews reached to his kids, hypothermia had already set in. Erickson said the first child was out of the water within 30 minutes of the call, but Risland said the kids had already been in the water 15 to 20 minutes. One child was pulled from the water 100 yards from shore and another was pulled 300 yards from shore. None of the children was breathing or had a pulse when they got out of the water. The lake is about 1.5 miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide.

After hours of CPR, the 2-year-old and 6-year-old boys were pronounced dead. Erickson said the kids were unconscious by the time rescue crews could get to them in the water and hypothermia had set in long before.

“It will be a miracle if the third child survives,” Erickson said.

Sheriff Erickson said he has met the boys previously and many deputies know the family involved, so news of the tragedy is hitting the small community hard.

“You don’t know it until you see the bodies, see their limp little bodies, it really hits you hard,” he said.

Clearwater Lake is partially located in both Clearwater and Beltrami Counties. The Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office will be providing counseling to the community starting Monday.

Sheriff Erickson said the tragedy brings a safety message.

“With the early spring, people assume because the air is warm the water is too. But the water temps are still very cold with the ice barely off, so hypothermia can set in within minutes. Especially with high winds,” Erickson said.

Aunt Sara Staley says her family finds some comfort in the depths of grief – their family’s strong faith even when tragedy strikes Easter weekend.

“Our hope is in Christ, the fact those boys are running and jumping and playing in heaven. They are in a much better place,” said Staley, who is asking for prayers for Isaiah. “It looks like there is minimal if any brain damage, every few hours looks like a small step of progess.”

The family has set up a fund for the Rislands.

Donate to:

Wells Fargo
Sara Staley (aunt) in care of “Benefit Risland Memorial Fund”

Comments (178)
  1. What a joke says:

    that’s what I thought after reading this…no way in heck would I just leave my kids out there…better I die trying to save them than leaving them

    1. bnn says:

      These are my cousin’s 3 boys, and I can assure you, Dan did everything he could to try to save his children! This is a terrible loss for him and the the family as well. Accidents happen. We need to treasure the moments God gives us with those we love, because you never know how long you will have them!

      1. bnn says:

        I just spoke with an EMT who told me that Dan did exactly what he ahould have, and had he not done what he did, all THREE boys would be gone, too. He did his best!

        1. WC says:

          I agree I would have done the same thing since the had life jackets on I would have left them to get help then went back in to get them. Even though 2 of the boys didn’t make it he’s a hero for trying.

  2. Educated says:

    LIfe jackets????

    1. Forrest Gump says:

      My god ,I agree with all the above. I would never do that.

    2. Richard in Minneapolis says:

      READ THE ARTICLE!!: “Clearwater County Sheriff Mike Erickson said all three children were wearing life jackets when the boat capsized.”

      1. bnn says:

        Watch the news clip at the top.

    3. nursecrys says:

      they had lLIFE JACKETS. They are very good friends and unless you know all the details and have words of condolance dont post your nasty comments.

  3. mn123456 says:

    Yes, where were the life jackets? And I can swim, but probably not to the extent of being fast enough to save 3 children’s lives. I might get one or two, but he faced a decision where he had to decide, should I get help and try to save all three or risk only getting one or two… Then people would ask, why didn’t you get help. Hard decision. I wouldn’t pick one child over the other, ever! In “murky” water what if you can’t find even one???

    Prayers for those children and their families.

    1. bnn says:

      These are the 3 sons of my cousin, and the father did everything he could to save them. They were also wearing life jackets. This is a huge loss for him and the family. It’s important to treasure every moment God gives us with the people we love, because you just never know when an accident will happen.

      1. bnn says:

        Also, they were ALL in life jackets. No one drowned. They died of hypothermia.

      2. Pammypam says:

        So sorry for your loss and your cousin (the father). I can’t imagine what he must be going through right now. He did what he could do and I’m sure he is going to struggle with this for the rest of his life. My heart goes out to him and those beautiful boys. God bless all of the family.

        1. bnn says:

          Thank you, Pam. We’ve all been squeezing our babies a little tighter. Your prayers for comfort would be appreciated!

          1. uncle to 3 kids the same age says:

            Dan is not wrong. If you could go back in time and tell Dan that there is no way his two youngest boys will live past Friday. I bet he would say. The last day of my sons life. I am going to take em out sailing. I am going to enjoy nature and mother earth on a wonderful day that only a Just God would provide for my sons last days on this earth. Dan needs counseling it was his fault, but he was a great father. Relive all the times in his life he was a great father and his sons didn’t die. I bet they were numerous.

    2. Jeeeeesus says:

      Wow, you clearly did NOT read the article.


      1. Captain Hazelwood says:

        I wonder how the boat is? I hope the DNR doesn’t give him a fine.

  4. Lonnie says:

    What the heck is a father doing taking kids that age out in a boat when water temps are so cold yet ??? Yes, what about life jackets ???

    1. Richard in Minneapolis says:

      READ THE ARTICLE!!: “Clearwater County Sheriff Mike Erickson said all three children were wearing life jackets when the boat capsized.”

      These children died of hypothermia. Not drowning.

      1. Sherry says:

        We all read the article which was here at the time of our posts. It has been updated several times since so yeah, alot of our questions have been answered Richard. Poorly done story to not mention each update as it was posted.

    2. bnn says:

      These are my cousin’s 3 boys, and I can assure you, Dan did everything he could to try to save his children! He is a great father. This is a terrible loss for him and the the family as well. Accidents happen. We need to treasure the moments God gives us with those we love, because you never know how long you will have them!

      1. Captain Hazelwood says:

        As a Captain, I am truly sorry for the loss in your family. You are correct, accidents do happen.

  5. NW_MN_Guy says:

    Life jackets unfortunately don’t always save lives… even when used properly. Water temperatures are very cold still, even with life jackets, the cold water is enough to cause hypothermia extremely fast. It was also windy at the time the call went out. I overheard on the scanner that the one surviving child was airlifted out of Bemidji tonight.

  6. Jada tollefson says:

    how dare you people say things like that. dont you think the dad has been threw enough, but now he has to see your stupid comments. YOU have no idea what happened. nothing you read or hear is every the truth. same on you people

    1. ted m says:

      lorin you dont know this guy like you say so dont say mean things about someone you dont know. i know this guy very well and he is one of the nicest guys you will meet. and yes there where life jackets on all victums. if you dont know the person personally then keep your mouth shut .

      1. Sherry says:

        @Ted If thats true then the authorities and news have caused all the speculation. How hard was it to come forth with that info that kids all had jackets on? Andddddddd if they had jackets on? why couldnt he float them all to safety?

      2. Jo says:

        Apparently one of those beatings left you with some brain damage. How do you know people have been calling CPS on him? Even if they have, it still prooves nothing. 80% of CPS calls are false complaints done in retaliation to prove power. Yeah, I’m sure the guy wanted his kids to die….Duh! Get a clue!! People don’t have kids because they want to hurt them.

        1. Sherry says:

          @Jo. Where have you been? We have been saddened soo many times by news that some mother or father has killed their kids. DUH!!! Its happening EVERY day, so you need to turn on the news! There is still something way creepy about this story cause nobody should take a 2 yr old (by himself plus 2 very young kids) in a sailboat PERIOD!

          1. bnn says:

            There was nothing creepy about it-I promise you! He was just trying to spend some time with his boys! He had their life vests on but the water was much colder than the air, and their little bodies just didn’t last long at all in that water. He did his level best to save them, and would certainly not go out on the lake if he had it to re-live. But life is a gift and it’s fragile-it changes in the blink of an eye. He is a good guy and this is a very difficult time for him and our family!

      3. bnn says:

        These are my cousin’s 3 boys, and I can assure you, Dan did everything he could to try to save his children! He is a WONDERFUL father. This is a terrible loss for him and the the family as well. Accidents happen. We need to treasure the moments God gives us with those we love, because you never know how long you will have them!

      4. m says:


        1. bnn says:

          The EMT I just talked to said he did the right thing, and all the boys would be dead if he had not done what he did.

        2. Karli says:

          you have quite the nerve don’t you? Obviously you didn’t see the post saying that the EMT told the father he did the right thing. You need to learn how to respect the loss of this family and maybe think of the hurt you have caused with your comments. But since it didn’t happen to you, you could care less. Think first before you come on here commenting and critizing the father. He is going through a tough time right now along with the mother, family, and friends. Your comments do not help. How would you feel if it happened to you or someone in your family? Get some class my friend. You need it.

        3. m up north says:

          Well maybe you should just be put in jail right now for attempted murder becouse if any thing ever happens to your kids we know what your choice would be. Just stay there and let them die. You are such a HEARTLESS B*T*H

    2. Ashly says:

      I agree, these people have no clue.. I cannot imagine the heartbreak. My prayers go out to the father, children, and family!!

      1. daddio says:

        Yes, devastating! That poor dad. He couldn’t save them, even though he did exactly what he should have!

    3. Megan says:

      Agreed Jada. The comments that people have posted make me ill. I wonder what they would say if it were somebody close to them that was in this situation. People lack COMPASSION. People lack RESPECT. And people who talk like that are nothing short of a bunch of ignorant, close-minded, ruthless, crude, mean, rude and a poor excuses of a human being. I hope that when their judgement day comes, God isn’t NEARLY as harsh on them as they’re being on Dan. He’s a good father. A great father. And for those that have never made a mistake in your life… I feel sorry for the day that you do. I hope that people make you feel as little as you’re probably making everybody involved in this situation. You have no clue what he’s going through. And he has to life with this the rest of his life. Don’t you think that’s punishment enough. He doesn’t need any more negativity in his life. I will pray for you tonight to find a shred of compassion. Because from what I see… a lot of you don’t have it. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

  7. Sherry says:

    Seriously, how can a father take 3 small kids onto a sailboat? Who was holding the 2 yr old while he sailed the boat? Im going to guess the kids were down below when it capsized

    1. bnn says:

      These are my cousin’s sons, and I can assure you, Dan did everything he could to try to save his children! He is an excellent father. This is a terrible loss for him and the the family as well. Accidents happen. We need to treasure the moments God gives us with those we love, because you never know how long you will have them!

      1. m says:

        You are right as u said his the great father but how could he leave the three kids ages 2, 6, 8, alone in the water to go to shore ask for help? was he sober? how old is he? I undersatnd his been going through a lot but give me a break how could he leave the kids alone?????

        1. bnn says:

          YES he was absolutely sober! He tried to pull the kids in, but the water was SO cold.

          1. bnn says:

            He had to hurry to get help as fast as he could! Again, they did not drown-he made SURE they were buckled well into their life jackets. It was the hypothermia that got the little guys!

            1. bnn says:

              And don’t forget he had hypothermia, too! If there’s no way you can get your frozen body to get 3 kids to shore, your only choice is to make sure their life jackets are secure and try to get help as fast as you can!!! He did that.

              1. bnn says:

                I just spoke with an EMT who told me that Dan did the right thing, and had he not done what he did, ALL three of the boys would be dead. He did his best!!!

                1. Captain Francesco Schettino says:

                  The EMT is correct, abandoning ship and leaving those kids behind was the right thing to do.

          2. Megan says:

            What would you have said if he just stayed in the water with them? And didn’t go for help. Then he’d be a bad guy too. Come on. What would you do in that situation? If you tried to pull them into shore and couldn’t due to water conditions. Wouldn’t you try to find help? Or would you say, “ah, forget it. I can’t move them so I’ll just stay here and freeze with them and hope that somebody finds us…” Really?!

        2. misty says:

          This man was trying to enjoy a nice bautifull day with his boys. I love how, Im guessing NOT ONE of u, people have ever had ANY THING bad happen in your small lifes. So if you and your child are taking a nice nature walk and a big black bear grabbs your child I hope I never see it on the news becouse I will be the FIRST to start throwing jabs at you, like, why didnt u stay and fight the bear, why didnt you check the area for wild life. I can go on and on but whats the sence. All you people want to do is blame who ever you can becouse you have NOT ONE CLUE what you would do if any thing bad ever happend in your lives.

  8. angus says:

    I doubt life jackets would be any help except in recovering bodies. Hypothermia would kill them very quickly. Try putting your entire hand in ice water for 3 minutes and find out how well it functions

  9. Bill says:

    There is no more desperate feeling in the world as when your children are drowning. I personally know that. The thought of leaving them is hard to comprehend.

  10. Jo says:

    Wow, sure are a lot of perfect people responding to this article. I can guarantee I would have made the same “mistake” he did. I cannot believe you are all criticizing him after what he has already been through. I sure hope nobody throws a rock at your glasshouses.

    1. Sherry says:

      If you would do what he did?? Please dont have any children! PLEASE!

      1. Ashly says:

        It absolutely sickens me to come on here and see this sad story and than to see such hateful comments. He did exactly what he was supposed to do, he did the best he could, you have no right!! Can you imagine being in that situation, if he would not have summoned help no one would have lived. If we would have stayed they would all be gone…Prayers for all of them!

    2. bnn says:

      These are the children of my cousin, and I can assure you, Dan did everything he could to try to save his children! He is a father. This is a terrible loss for him and the the family as well. Accidents happen. We need to treasure the moments God gives us with those we love, because you never know how long you will have them!

    3. bnn says:

      That was supposed to say a wonderful father. At any rate, he did his best and the family could use your prayers rather than your criticisms. Thanks!

      1. bnn says:

        And also, did anyone watch the news clip at the top?? It doesn’t sound like it.

    4. misty says:

      Realy?!? And what evidence would that be.

    5. Paul Solinger says:

      Ryan, You are one heartless SOB.

  11. Grandma says:

    I am so saddened by another report of innocent children being hurt/endangered. Where is the common sense of people who call themselves “parents?” Isn’t there someone/place to take these children to that will love and nuture them, read to them, protect them, love them unconditionally. They did not choose to come into this world, you did. Children deserve the very best. My heart just crys for these children. How awful.

    1. bnn says:

      These are the 3 children of my cousin. Dan is a wonderful father! He is heartbroken, and this is a huge loss to him and the rest of the family. You never know when accidents will happen. We need to hold tight to our kids and treasure all the moments we have with them, because they can be short! Prayers for the family appreciated!

      1. bnn says:

        And also, he DID love, nurture, read to and unconditionally love his children! Accidents happen!

      2. Grandma says:

        bnn….I do understand, and I pray for this family too, as your cousin has to feel just horrible. However, if we think ahead and act safely, these types of things can be prevented. Our prayers are with all of you as you go through these deep times of sorrow.

        1. bnn says:

          Thank you for your prayers. Obviously, if Dan could re-live the day he would NEVER go out on the water, but he was just trying to spend a fun day with his boys. I hope and pray in time he will heal, and that he will not live his life weighted down with guilt, as I know he is deeply troubled now.

          1. bnn says:

            I talked to an EMT a moment ago who informed me that Dan did the right thing, and all the boys would be dead had he not done what he did. He tried his best to save those sweeties.

            1. Captain Francesco Schettino says:

              The EMT is correct. That’s what we are trained to do. Abandon ship and leave others behind and get help quickly. In terms of passengers on a cruise liner, it’s better to lose a few, rather than all.

        2. daddio says:

          That poor dad did all he could.

    2. nursecrys says:

      Thats exactly what he did was nuture them. They are very good friends of ours and loved their children with every inch of their heart. You people dont know this family and what they are going through right now. You need to worry about what happens in your own lives and keep your negativity to yourself.

    3. Jo says:

      Get a grip Grandma. You are old enough to grow up and realze that accidents happen.

  12. dodo says:

    amazeing how ppl just jump on the guy, his choice was, all die or go for help fast, and hope for the best….YOU jump in the very cold water and u will find out what it’s like, to go num in 5 minets, I don’t think he had any choice….very sad…..

    1. no brainer says:


      1. daddio says:

        You know, it could have happened to any number of people, I’m sure. When the weather is somewhat warm, and the older kids are off school, and you want to spend special time with them, I think many dads would go. You just don’t think of the possibility of your boat capsizing! He had them in life jackets and just thought he’d spend a holiday weekend on an outing with his sons!

      2. Paul Solinger says:

        Your parents should have chosen not to have children. You, too, are one heartless SOB.

  13. bnn says:

    He is heartbroken and did his best to save them! Accidents happen!

  14. Ashley says:

    all of you who said he made a huge mistake, the officers said he did everythin he could to keep all his kids alive, so i dont want to see yall critizin him for that, those were my cousins that died, and im in kansas, i cant even be there for my family in this time of need, if your gonna critize what he did and think it was wrong, just shush, he did what he could!!!!

  15. Ashley says:

    he didnt do it on purpose, he was makin a turn and a gust of wind knocked the boat over, so back off you dont have a clue

  16. bnn says:

    As a member of the family, I would just like to set the record straight. The 3 boys were ALL wearing life preservers. The temperature of the water was much colder than the air, so when the boat capsized, the boys didn’t last in the water very long at all. =( The boat was blown over by a big gust of wind. Dan did everything in his power to save his sons. He is a very loving and dedicated father, and is obviously mourning their loss deeply right now, along with the rest of the family. These precious boys will be dearly missed. Accidents can happen so quickly, and at this time of loss, your prayers and condolences would be deeply appreciated, and we ask that you please refrain from harsh judgements as some things are just out of our hands. Treasure your children, because you just never know when they will be called to heaven.

    1. bnn says:

      No you are TOTALLY wrong. He made sure those kids were well buckled into their life jackets, and tried to bring them in but the water was FREEZING. So he ended up hurrying to get help as fast as he could! I promise you his concern was 100% for his sweet boys.

      1. bnn says:

        He did his utmost to save them. They did not drown-they passed quickly because of the water temp. Their little bodies could not resist the cold. He just wanted to spend a fun day with his boys.

        1. bnn says:

          Also, a moment ago I spoke with an EMT who said that he did the right thing, and had he not done what he did, all the boys would be dead. He did his best!

          1. bnn says:

            He tried to get the 3 kids to shoer but not only was he battling hypothermia also, the current was TOO strong. So he swan to shore, got help, then broke into a boathouse, grapped a boat and tried to row to his boys….He tried SO hard.

  17. Sherry says:

    AGAIN Ask him how he thought he could SAIL a sailboat and handle 3 small kids that included a BABY! This makes absolutely no sense! Maybe that is how the boat capsized…because he couldnt!

    1. bnn says:

      The littles was turning 3 this month. He cannot predict a big gust of wind blowing the boat over. IT WAS AN ACCIDENT!A very sad, tragic one that has broken his heart. Please don’t judge! He LOVED those boys so much.

    2. Obvious says:

      Yes…agree Sherry…children too small to be in a sailboat this time of year.

      1. daddio says:

        You just don’t think about your boat capsizing, though! I mean, the air was nice, he had all 3 boys snug in their vests, and it looked fine. It could have happened to lots of people.

    3. uncle to 3 kids the same age says:

      Does anyone know if he tried to hoist the boys onto the capsized boat? Did it just sink? FYI a baby is 0-1 year old. There was nothing about a baby or any child younger than 2 in the boat. This story could have been a feel good story and the same people casting stones would be praising this wonderful father for spending quality time with the three most important people in his life. Warnings should have been posted. The weather is in a weird pattern now.

  18. Shalia says:

    i dont know dan ;personally, but i am best friends with one of the family members, i dont think people should be criticising him expecially if you havent gone through what he had to go through, you cant say you wouldnt do what he did, because until your in that situattion you dont know what your gonna do, he is a great dad, he did everything he could for those boys, he did try to bring them to shore, but he had hypothermia to and the extra weight was to much, he is still doing everything he can for the oldest, and you know the old saying, if you dont have anything nice to say dont say anything at all, well thats what all you haters should do, im praying for them and wish the best for them

    1. bnn says:

      Yes, you are right! He tried!

    2. m says:

      shalia , as a reponsible adult, dad u do not leave the 2, 6, 8 year old alone inthe middle of water go down with them if you cant save them

      1. bnn says:

        He thought this was the only way to save them! I would have thought so, too!! If you have hypothermia and can hardly move and there’s no way you can get them to shore, the only thing to do is make sure their life jackets are secure and get struggle to shore as fast as you can for help!

      2. bnn says:

        I just talked to an EMT a few minutes ago, and she informed me that Dan did the right thing, and had he not done what he did, all three boys would be dead! He did his best!

        1. bnn says:

          Also, the current was TOO strong to battle with the boys in tow, especially with hypothermia himself. He swam to shore, got help, broke into a boathouse and took a boat and tried to row back to them. He absolutely did his utmost.

    3. hurt says:

      i agree whole heartedly! people shouldnt be commenting about what they wouldve done differently when they were not in the sitaution! It hurts to see some of these comments,,,i just can’t believe how some people can judge someone else so much without even being in there shoes. I know the family of this man and they are GREAT people. my prayers go out to all of them and words cannot say how sorry i am for the loss of the 2 children. NO ONE should ever have to go through that loss and i can’t even begin to imagine how he must feel .

      1. uncle to 3 kids the same age says:

        This could have been the Minnesota Feel good story of the year. Father of 3 takes his kids out for a wonderful day on the lake. All these people negatively commenting would be saying the opposite. “Awe what an awesome Dad. Man I wish I had a dad like that growing up. ” A GUY WHO GOES THROUGH ALL THE HASSLE AND TROUBLE TO GET A BOAT READY WITH THREE KIDS AND TAKE EM OUT ON A LAKE AND GIVE THE BOYS WHAT HE THINKS IS GONNA BE A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE ON A BEAUTIFUL DAY IS A GREAT FATHER. I repeat DAN IS A GREAT FATHER. ACCIDENTS HAPPEN IT DOESN’T CHANGE THE FACT THAT THIS GUY IS A GREAT FATHER. I hugged my son for 10 min. after reading this story. That could have been my brother with his 3 boys. Hang in there Dan. You are a good Dad and your boy is in one of the best PICU’s in the country.

  19. bnn says:

    My goodness, I have no idea who you are, but you are mistaken. I realize you used “drunk” as an example here, but it might give people the worng idea. He was absolutely not drinking, he could not predict a big gust of wind. IT was just a horrible accident. He was a wonderful dad, loved his boys and was a dedicated and involved parent!!! If I took my child to the zoo and we got in a car accident on the way and my son died-that does NOT make me a monster. It means there was an accident and life changes fast! I am not even going to address the ridiculous woman-beater nonsense.

    1. Captain Joseph Hazelwood says:

      Accidents do happen. I’m sure he wasn’t drunk or sleeping at the time.

    2. Sherry says:

      Guess what? He was in a sailboat and big gusts of wind are what fuel a sailboat!

      1. Sherry says:

        Hopefully someday a new law. One child per adult allowed on a boat!

        1. Patrick says:

          That’s what we need, a new law for sailboats. You’re an idiot sherry.

          1. Sherry says:

            Im an idiot for wanting to protect kids? Obviously idiot is not a word you know the meaning of. Read a dictionary. And I didnt say sailboats..said boats.

            1. bnn says:

              No one is an idiot for wanting to protect children. I would lay my life down in a heartbeat for mine. What makes you an idiot is making a good person trying to take his kids out for a fun afternoon WITH their lifejackets on out to be a criminal. Had Dan went to the store and left his almost 3 year old at home, YES, that would be a good time to fight for a child’s protection. Had he been a drunk with no regard for his children’s safety, absolutely stand up for them. But THIS, what you are doing, appears to be an insecurity issue. It makes you feel temporarily better to belittle others….SAD.

            2. shortstop says:

              I have an idea, Sherry. MAYBE we should pass a law against leaving one’s house at all, ESPECIALLY with our children. No one could deny they would be safer this way. Who cares if we have missed out on life. WOW.

            3. bandelero says:

              Bnn is on to something. Insecurity is pretty easy to spot and Sherry reeks of it. My heart goes out to this family.

      2. daddio says:

        Congrats for stating the obvious. WIND fuels sailboats, yes. A big, sudden, super strong gust of wind is something else entirely.

  20. bnn says:

    I just got done talking with an EMT a moment ago, and she told me that he did the right thing! She said that the oldest would have died as well if he had not done what he did.

  21. JackieM says:

    *hugs* to everyone involved. It is a sad day in Minnesota. Sounds like the wind kicked up unexpectedly. My heart goes out to everyone involved.

  22. JackieM says:

    My heart goes out to everyone involved. It sounds like the wind came up unexpectantly. What a horrible situation to be placed in. I hope the oldest child pulls through. Sorry to read news like this.

  23. michelle says:

    Seeing all these comments just breaks my heart. The three boys were his life – he would do anything for them – which is what he did when he went to shore to try and get help to save them! Seeing all these comments just breaks all the families hearts – as though we aren’t all in enough pain now as it is. We don’t need this additional hurt caused by people who don’t know them like family does. Please continue to keep Dan, Ruth, Isaiah and all the family in your prayers!!

  24. daddio says:

    Yikes-that is a pretty ridiculous and judgemental way to talk. It’s evident that he wanted to save his kids more than anything.

  25. daddio says:

    Wow-heartbreaking. I know the family-they are great people and my thoughts are with you!

  26. Jada tollefson says:

    what is wrong with you people ur just mean keep your stupid comments to youself

  27. ANB says:

    I guess your choice would be to give up, sit there and watch all three of your children pass away along with yourself??? No…that’s ridiculous, He clearly fought for his children and it’s so sad to see comments like this:( I

  28. Amy says:

    I know this family and Dan probably had the toughest decision of his life right there, knowing how cold the water was and knowing that the kids would get hypothermia! He love’s his children and his family! how dare you judge unless you have been in his shoes and had to make that decision!!! shame on you. Pray for them and do not judge!

  29. Ashley says:

    to those of you who are not accusin danny, the family here in kansas greatly apprieciate it and all the family up in minnesota, the thoughts and prayers yall are sendin to our family,

    and those of you who continue to think all danny cared about was himself, and you with the whole women beater thing goin on, what in the hell are you talkin about? ive been very good to keep my temper down with all this BS you are sayin on here, we are all hurtin enough, and its gonna take a long while to come back from this, danny loves his kids and would do, and did damn near everythin he could, pay attention to the video and article, if i offend anyone of you i apoligize for what im about to say GET THE F*** OVER YOURSELVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Daren. says:

      Feel bad for the kids. I prayed for them. But I think the wife beating thing is true too. Any guy who hits women is capable of anything and I don’t think this was an accident.

      1. daddio says:

        Daren, PLEASE do not help start rumors in an already tragic situation….I HATE violence, especially the domestic kind, and I know Dan, so let me tell you, there is not a HINT of truth to this. It’s completely baffling to see people grasping at straws so they can point fingers, and in this case, that’s excatly what it is. He does NOT hit women!!!!!!!!!

      2. Claus says:

        Oh brother. It’s more fun to speculate about something evil than to take a tragedy at face value, isn’t it, Daren?? Pathetic.

    2. M up north says:

      Dont know you ashley, but im right by your side on that!!!

  30. Vmkd2020 says:

    This is horrifying! What kind of a dad takes a 2 year old on a trip like this and then leaves him to fend for himself ? He should be charged with manslaughter.

    1. daddio says:

      Danny took his 3 boys(the littlest of whom was turning 3 in 2 weeks) for a fun daddy/son ride on a boat on a sunny day. The air was warm, and it was beautiful. He strapped each kid carefully in a life preserver. He in no way could have predicted such a big gust of wind that would capsize the boat. You just don’t think something like that will happen. He tried to tow the boys to shore, but since hypothermia was setting in on himself AND the current was strong, he couldn’t. He had to make a quick decision, and swam as best he could for shore where he stopped someone and had them call 911. He then broke into a boathouse, grabbed a boat, and tried to row out to them. He tried everything he could! I talked to an EMT and she said he did the RIGHT thing, and if he hadn’t done what he did all THREE of his boys would be dead. None of them drowned, since he had all their life jackets on, but the 2 littlest ones died of hypothermia. It was an accident! You cannot predict when accidents are going to happen! He is a great father, that’s what kind. I cannot believe the things people say when they don’t have a clue. The family and espicially Dan are deeply grieving the loss of these 2 precious boys!

  31. RIck says:

    Sorry – but I don’t know WHO would take 3 small children out sailing when the water temperature is too cold (or warm for that matter). Especially a 2-year-old – a child that age requires a lot of attention – even on dry land. It sounds very irresponsible but maybe there’s something I’m missing.

    1. M up north says:

      Sounds to me like there is ALOT you people are missing.

    2. ndl says:

      I just want to say that I live in Alaska where you are always in danger of hypothermia anytime you go out on the water. My family and I go out on the water with our young children all the time. We take care to ensure their life jackets fit properly and take every precaution to make sure they are safe while we are out. You can’t foresee a tragedy like this happening and you surely wouldn’t have many days out on the water, especially in Alaska, if you did. My prayers are with this family.

      1. @ndl says:

        you wouldn’t go out in a sail-boat though,would ya?

  32. nursecrys says:

    \whatever Lorin. Crawl back in the hole you came out of

  33. Cindy Swedberg says:

    I am so appauled at the negitive comments on here. Judging this man. Hide sight is alwasy 20/20. Do any of us really know how or what we would do in the utter moment of a disaster? It is very easy for you to say I never would do that or I would do this. The situation happens and there is no way you would be able to say,”Ok I thought about this the other day and this is what I will do.” As for taking his three young children out for boat ride on a beautiful spring afternoon…who would ever dream that it would unfold as it did. How many times do you test fate each day and nothing bad happens. Then on one day, one moment in time it all changes….Shame on all of you who what blood. This father and family and community is in pain that you cannot ever possibly understand. I hope that you will feel some shame but I doubt that you will because you are ever so perfect and would never say or do anything wrong, for you are put here on earth to judge, right? May God forgive you of your judgments and extremely rude comments!

    1. Sherry says:

      Wasn’t just a boat ride with his 3 kids! It was a sailboat with 3 SMALL kids including a baby! THE BEST sailor could not do this. Heres a scenario and it happened to me when my kids were small. Hubby and I out fishing in small motor boat, oldest being 5 falls in but has life jacket on. Hubby instantly killed motor and jumped in. I was left in boat with 3 yr old..thank goodness we had 2 adults cause now we have a major situation. So yeah accidents happen but this man taking these kids out in a sailboat is beyond accidental.

      1. shortstop says:

        The “baby” was just turning 3….

        You need help, Sherry.

  34. Sue says:

    My heart aches for this family. How dare anyone make a hurtful comment after what this family has endured! I lost my daughter 3 1/2 years ago and there isn’t a greater agony on earth. Please think before you add to their pain! I offer my deepest condolences.

  35. ja says:

    Water is killer right now. I kayaked on lake superior this week. Drysuit and insulation I was still cold enough within 1.5 hours to want off the water. I see a lot of folks in boats dressed like it’s summer here in town. Sailors / kayakers have to be in thick wetsuits or drysuits this time of year.. Power boaters should be too.
    So sad. This is just heartbreaking.

  36. what?!? says:

    WCCO Need to PULL ALL COMMENTS made on this story. Wow I’m trying to understand if some are you are really either this stupid or nothing more than the typical Minnesotan grown D bag. This guy just lost his kids. He was powerless in saving some of them. he will have to live with this forever. His family is destroyed. Have a heart. yes maybe he made a mistake. Maybe it was a freak of nature.. But it doesn’t change the fact that he and his family is in a world of hurt. Why do you feel you need to post dumb S**t..

  37. Sherry says:

    This from the Star Trib Says the sailboat was new purchase and father had experience with other boats! So this was his first time out sailing and he took the 3 kids with? And family and friends of this guy expect us to think of this as an OOPS moment? Says sister in law waved to them as they left….didnt she think omg I dont think he can handle 3 kids in a sailboat?

    1. daddio says:


      1. Sherry says:

        Gadget Soule, Risland’s sister-in-law, watched the boys leave with their father, thrilled to take the sailboat out for the first time. “They were all excited to go out and sail with Daddy,” she said

        1. daddio says:

          FIRST TIME with THAT sail boat-NOT first time sailing!

          1. Sherry says:

            Same difference ! Every boat is different and until he had checked this boat out himself….no to the children. We have had many different boats thru the yrs and some are tippier then others. And some handle way better too! THESE ARE THINGS A RESPONSIBLE ADULT SHOULD KNOW AND DO. Sounds like he was an avid sports person and ice fished, etc so he knew the dangers of cold water. I bet at 31 hes even had a few run ins with it. I will wait to hear what the mother says about this whole deal. If she feels what he did was heroic then I will have to be ok with that.

            1. daddio says:

              You have an incredibly hard heart. When your kids die in a car accident, how are you going to feel when everyone tells you what an irresponsible adult you are?? I’m not going to say ridiculous things or attack like some, but I find it pretty hard to believe that you are as perfect and invincible as you think you are. I’ll pray for you.

              1. Sherry says:

                why do you post replies to my posts if you are not going to comment about anything I said in the post? Calling me heartless is rediculous. My heart bleeds for these 3 little kids and I feel what happened to them was a result of someone being way careless. That is not heartless…..you too need to read a dictionary.

                1. bnn says:

                  Why? There is a very glaringly obvious reason why. Because we could go on about petty nonsense forever over an accident. But what you seem to be missing is the heart of the issue. Since you seem to be a walking dictionary, I shouldn’t have to explain common sense to you. Oh, wait. Dictionaries don’t have common sense. I understand you so much better now.

                2. Sherry says:

                  List the points I made that you feel are “petty nonsense”. There are no concerns on my part that are unjustifiable. The questions I have are the same ones every person in this state have right now…I know, except the family and friends of the “hero”. This is my last post cause like I said Im going to wait and see what the mother has to see about said “hero”. She lost the most and what she says will be what we all will accept!

                3. Betty says:

                  Wow Sherry…Looks like you have way too much time on your hands to be passing all this judgement on a grieving father. Try to have some compassion and I sure hope nothing ever happens to you or your family where everyone is judging you. Good grief…get a life.

                4. daddio says:

                  Agreed BNN….I wouldn’t worry what some people even think. Their thoughts are senseless anyway. Someday, I’m sure tragedy WILL strike her family, and it will be interesting to see what kind of response she gets, based on her self-proclaimed level of perfection.

              2. bigsky says:

                Amen, Betty, this is unbelievable! If I lived anywhere nearby, I would go make them a meal and offer my condolences. The paramedics and police said he’s not to blame, and he clearly tried several things, everything he could, to try to save them. I hope God has mercy on your soul, Sherry, ’cause you’re going to need it.

  38. Patrick says:

    Most of you people are idiots. Everyone turns into some kind of expert and never read the story or knows nothing but the headline. Shame on wcco for letting comments fly on this story.

  39. Karli says:

    For everyone posting hateful comments; obviously none of you have the respect and heart for what this family is going through. It was an ACCIDENT. No one could have predicted it. Insted of criticizing the father, get some decency and pray for the family or keep them in your hearts. Posting comments saying what he shouldn’t and should have done doesn’t fix the situation. Get some class and have respect. It was an accident. Obviously none of you posting hateful comments have made a mistake in your perfect little lives so you wouldn’t know what it felt like to lose 2 of your 3 children. Maybe think about what the father, mother, family and friends are going through before you get the nerve to come on here and judge the father. Who i’m sure NONE of you know. Grow up.

  40. bnn says:

    Kevin, I am not perfect and I’m sure not going to pretend that I’ve never made a mistake, but I am NOT a liar, and I am NOT ignorant. I can see you’d love to make a demon out of a nice, family guy who was a great dad, but thankfully, your cheap, insensative thoughts do not change the truth. I’m shocked at the amount of judging someone can do who has very little knowledge of what happened. Since I DO know exactly what happened, I guess I won’t waste time worrying about what you think. But I do wish you would find out the truth before making such heartless comments.

  41. bigsky says:

    Sherry is almost laughable, if her ridiculousness wasn’t overshadowed by such sadness and suffering here.

  42. bandelero says:

    This life doesn’t come with any guaruntees. One moment, you’re a happy, loving family, and the next moment, half that family’s been wiped out in an accident. This family is in my thoughts and prayers!

  43. I hate sherry.com says:

    Sherry is on something. How sad to read this story and get mad at the father. Sherry it’s sad that your husband who divorced you years ago was never a good father to your kids. At least he got one thing right in getting away from your wrinkly old a**. Good luck with your eventual lung cancer from all the cigarettes you smoke, and stop buying so many lottery tickets and start buying items from www. get a life . com ya dirty old bag.

    1. Sherry says:

      As much as I think this father is responsible for what happened to his kids…..you really need to watch what you say. You arent doing him any favors by alerting us to the fact that at least one of his family or friends is a hotheaded psycho. Think about what you post next time.

      1. bnn says:

        Well, I AM related, and I don’t know who this is-sure don’t think they’re related….At any rate, you’re not doing yourself any favors, Sherry, either.

        1. Sherry says:

          bnn??? I dont need any favors. This story is not about me. I just got bombarded with hate for asking the legitimate questions that everyone I know is asking. And seriously I DO hope that these peeps are not related to you because they just add fuel to the fire.

      2. Sorry sherry says:

        This is meant for sherry and only sherry as soon as she reads it and replies i will take it down. Sherry dan knows hes respospnsible for his kids it doesnt matter what you think. No need to play captain obvious, and I’m not related just appalled at the attack u are throwing at this man who loved his kids. You are saying stupid things about this man named Dan and hurting his family. So I thought to flip the tide on u. I figured I would say some stupid things about you. I must have hit some kind of nerve. You have every right to question this mans judgement on here. Your just wrong about so many things. 1st A 3 year old is not a baby. They Realise boundaries. They don’t sleep in a crib. They go potty by themselves. I bet if Dan said sit there and don’t fool around. The toddler would sit still. He didn’t take a baby out there. Maybe in ur mindits a baby, but it wasnt in dans and thats what matters. I am touched by this story. I’m a stay at home father who has kids around the same age. Life is so short. If you were gonna die tomorrow would you be happy with what your doing with your life today? At the begining of Friday morning and up until that boat capsized you ask Dan and his kids that question I think they answer it yes. From the sounds of it there were more days than not that the answer to that question was yes. That is how dan chose to raise his boys. Thats what is gonna help their family get over this. It was an accodent He wants to take it back he wants to go back in time and not be super dad. He wants to be like u who knows all the answers and shelters his kids and doesnt give them life long experiences every chance he gets. He messed up. He knows it. He cries for his kids. He hurts he loved loving life with his kids and now he thinks he ruined it. He didnt ruin it though and thats hard for anyone to understand especially dan. He gave those boys a great life. The gravity of his actions are eating him. He will loose so much weight and will never fully recover. Celebrate those boys good times. Celebrate the fact that for 3 and six years a man raised and got to know two beautiful kids. You are so out of touch with fathers like us. Your the opposite sex for gods sake and older. Dont you realise dads of the future are different. They hug their kids. They cry with their kids. They teach them to be the person they always strived to be. They try to make it fun as often as possible. They read tem books, fly kites, ride bikes play ball…..This tragedy hits home for me on so many levels. It makes me cherish life with my kids. I’m like Dan. I’m the dad at the playground going down the slides crawling through the tunnels and teaching my son to love living. I could have been the one on my jetski too early with my kid in a lifevest sitting on my lap. I apologise for the things I said about you sherry. I probably wasn’t right about any of them. Just watch what ya say this man and his family don’t need you judging him in public right now. If you want to help send em money. Viva la vida.

        1. Sherry says:

          You said all that because I called a 2 yr old a baby? What other “stupid” things did I say? I went thru all my posts and didnt find anything “stupid” about any of them! And hey Im all for having fun and living life but not to the point of endangering anothers life. A drunk driver is only out having a good time too until they crash into an innocent person so……… Also the sister in law or aunt (not sure)said in news clip that they were “rambunctious” kids that would only sit still while watching veggie tales or playing with dad. Which makes no sense btw. So this is another “omg what was he thinking moment” for me! Im not even going to comment on your dads of the future story………

          1. freedomrules says:

            Sherry..is..an..IDIOT….There is a HUGE difference between driving drunk and taking your kids out for a fun day on the sun turning tragic. You’re a nut, woman.When your day comes, I hope everyone is aweful to you.

          2. freedomrules says:

            Sherry..is..a…LOSER….There is a HUGE difference between driving drunk and taking your kids out for a fun day on the sun turning tragic. You’re a nut, woman. When your day comes, I hope everyone is aweful to you.

        2. Really says:

          Would you take your kid’s sailing on a very windy afternoon when the ice has just come off of the lake?

  44. Jan says:

    Please don’t put down this Father. He is going through enough right now. It was an ACCIDENT!

  45. auntyvonne says:


    I understand some of the frustration. Being from Arizona, I probably make a lot of the same comments every time I hear of a child dying from being left in a car. The unfortunate thing is bad things happen. It helps us to blame someone because we tell ourselves that we would never do something like that. The sad truth is we’ve all done something that, in hindsight, we wished we hadn’t. Events like this should teach us compassion. The Bible tells us to treat others as we would want to be treated. Isn’t that what compassion ultimately is? I can’t even begin to imagine what this father is going through. He needs our love and compassion more than ever. The surviving son also needs our prayers for a complete recovery.

    1. Claus says:

      Yes, we all have those moments where think of what might have been and it is SCARY. Unfortunately, that what might have been happened to this family. Things happen and the best thing we can do is be there to comfort when tragedy strikes and love our kids with all our hearts for the time we have them.

  46. katie says:

    My prayers go out to the father, children, and family!! this is so sad it made me cry..

  47. katie says:

    My prayers go out to the father, children, and family!! this made me cry when i see this:(((

  48. DrCrank says:

    Does anyone know what type of sailboat it was? make? Mode;? It makes a big difference in understanding what might have happened. One of the news outlets whows a pic of a Catalina 34, but others say it was a small sailboat.

    1. DrCrank says:

      I’ve sailed for over twenty years on boats from 12 to 45′. If the winds were above 20kts I would not be out there, and certainly would not have children aboard.
      The commenters say the father had experience with boats, but was he an experienced sailor? There is a huge difference.

  49. Sherry says:

    You are being way scarey so no more replies to you and the rest of your user names.

    1. bnn says:

      Who are you talking to?? I am married and my husband and I have expressed both our thougts that are similar, so there would be 2 different user names for the 2 of us….Who has multiple user names?

  50. Sherry says:

    Does anyone know how the 8 yr old is doing today?

    1. bnn says:

      He’s still in critical condition…but we have high hopes for him!

  51. Sherry says:

    I see on CaringBridge that his aunt has titled todays journal entry as “Hopeful but not optimistic”?? Which one is it? Sounds like tomorrow will be a telling day for this kid….hope he gives everyone a reason to smile.

  52. elfdr says:

    I would really like to know the size of the sailboat. I am assuming that since it capsized (turned over/turtled?) that it had a swing keel and not a fixed keel that would pop it back up if it was knocked down by a big gust. I have every sympathy for this family – horrible tragedy – but you need to ask the right questions and learn from these things so tragedies are less likely to be repeated. I have sailed my whole life and would not have gone out on our current boat (19 feet, swing keel) on even a tiny lake on Friday, it was way too windy, water way too cold. Things happen and go wrong very fast on sailboats, and lfejackets have limitations.

    1. Sherry says:

      I dont know anything about sailboats but sounds like you sure do! Would you bring kids those ages on your 19ft by yourself? Even on a hot July day?

      1. elfdr says:

        no I would not. Our rule is always one adult per child. Our boat can comfortably handle six people, but for safety reasons we limit it to four, and if two are children there has to be two adults. Small sailboats can be unstable, especially if the wind is gusting. Friday was not a small sailboat day due to the high winds, gustiness of the wind, and the frigid water temperature. Even putting the boat in the water would have been a panic.

        1. Sherry says:

          I got called an idiot for suggesting those rules about 1 adult per child. So be prepared to be called an idiot

          1. elfdr says:

            We have been in some situations where we were surprised by a sudden change in the weather and were unprepared. We have taken our chances and were lucky enough to not get caught too badly by the mistakes we made. Having learned those lessons we now try to be safe.

    2. Sherry says:

      ”Danny has told us that the wind didn’t flip the sailboat, the waves and wind worked together to tip the boat and water rushed in and the boat sank,” an update on Isaiah’s CaringBridge website said. “

      Read more: Hope for 3rd Boy in Clearwater Lake Boat Accident http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/dpp/news/minnesota/clearwater-lake-boat-capsized-isaiah-risland-apr-9-2012#ixzz1rZoUKpTa

      1. Really says:

        where do you think the waves come from?