MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Family members are asking for prayers for an 8-year-old boy hospitalized after a sailboat accident that claimed the lives of his two brothers.

Isaiah Risland is at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. Hospital spokesman Justin Theodotou was not authorized to release additional information about his condition Sunday, but officials with the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office said a day earlier that he was in critical condition.

Authorities say Isaiah, his two brothers and their father were sailing Friday on Clearwater Lake when their boat capsized, throwing them into the frigid water.

All three boys were wearing life jackets. Their dad, Dan Risland, swam for help. But 2-year-old Jacob and 6-year-old Zech did not survive. They apparently died of hypothermia.

Clearwater County Sheriff Mike Erickson says his staff was “struck terribly by this tragedy.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (27)
  1. Tom says:

    How stupid can 1 father be. He should go to jail for being so stupid. I feel sorry for the kids, but not him.

    1. Shawna says:

      Thats messed up tom he was an excellent dad and you have no right to say that exspecially when you dont even know him

      1. Tom says:

        Would u take a 2 year old out in a sail boat with 20 mile an hour wind. I don’t want to know him. I go to the BWCA with my kids when they were 9 and 10. When the wind blows, we park it. Common sense.

    2. go to the playground says:

      @Tom, I agree. 3 small kids in a boat. Are you kidding me?

    3. Tom says:

      I’m not as stupid as u think. I would not take a 2 year old out in the first place. And I haven’t killed anyone. Have u?

  2. duder says:

    So sad and tragic, but I agree with Tom – what was the father thinking? The kids should have had suits on and the proper gear for cold water sailing. They didn’t and now two children are dead with a third not doing well in hospital. Terrible terrible set of events – and should not have happened!

  3. Sanity says:

    I have to agree with Tom. I am sure he loved his children and was probably a good father, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t make a stupid decision.

  4. Mike says:

    It is truly a tragedy which could have been avoided. Proper training and equipment is necessary, especially for cold water sailing. Capsize recovery was the first sailing skill I learned.

    1. DrCrank says:

      Mike seems to be the only one who appreciates the skills required to sail. I’ve been sailing for over 20 years on boats from 12 to 45′. You need a big boat and a lot of skill when the wind is above 20. I too learned capsize recovery first, before actually sailign a boat.
      The news accounts say is was a “little” boat. Probably not ballasted, meaning you use the weight of the crew to keep the boat upright.

  5. Megan says:

    I suppose that you have never made a stupid choice have you? If you’re a parent, you’ve never made the wrong or probably not so smart choice when it came to your children. Unfortunately, he made a poor choice. As we all have. His choice just happened to end in tragedy. But to say he should be charged and sit in jail is an ignorant, close minded and ruthless thing to say. If that’s the case, so should all parents who smoke around their kids. Or that don’t update a car according to age, weight and height. Or that don’t make their children wear helmets while riding a bike. I happen to KNOW that man and KNOW that family and it makes me ILL that there are people like you out there saying stuff like that. He just lost 2 kids and is watching his first born fight for his life. Don’t you think that’s punishment enough for him?! He has to walk through life with this hanging over him the REST of his life. You and whoever else feels that way should be ashamed of yourself. Have a little compassion. The man just lost 2 children.

    1. Megan says:


    2. Gump says:

      Not like this. He put his chidren in danger and two of them died because of it.

    3. Honestly says:

      I wonder what the last thought was in those kid’s minds as they were slowly dieing and watched their father swim away and abandon them? They trusted him to keep them safe and not only did he endanger their lives by taking them out in a sailboat on a windy day, far from shore, on a lake with frigged water temperatures, but he left them to fend for themselves when he miscalculated the wind and sail and they were capsized. He couldn’t save even one of them? I find it hard to believe that a grown man could not swim to shore towing a 2 year old in a life jacket?

      The whole thing was a stupid thing to do and the kids paid the price for their father’s ignorance.

      1. Really says:

        Well said. I thought the exact same thing. How could you not hook your arms through their life jackets and swim in. One hour in the freezing water. Then he tells the oldest son to watch his siblings while he swims in alone. The sad thing is that this is some little county where the 31 year old father was mayor for several years and not Hennepin County. Where he would be charged.

    4. tan pup says:

      NO I have NEVER made a stupid mistake that cost the lives of innocent children or anyone else! Those two kids died because he was STUPID and self-absorbed! It was about HIM and how HE wanted HIS kids to experience sailing! I’m not ashamed of myself for not having compassion for someone who made a conscious decision and put those kids in danger! NO one in their right mind would take three young kids under the age of 8 out on a cold windy lake in a boat they were not familiar with! No matter how you want to look at it, he was WRONG; this was not just a stupid choice! OMG you can’t see all the things WRONG here? A two year old is hard enough to keep track of in a grocery store and dad not only tkes him on a sail boat, but tells the 8 yr old to watch him and another child while he gets help! YOU are also the problem when you think that no matter what a person does, they shouldn’t be held responsible and everyone should “pray” for them. This might come as a shock to you, but as a parent you have the ultimate responsibility to keep your kids safe from harm and sometimes it means not doing what you want to do.

  6. Noy my job says:

    Praying for Isaiah and his father and mother, not my place to judge.

    Praise you in this storm.

  7. Troy says:

    Why did he leave the kids in the water? Couldn’t they have hung onto Dad, as he swam to shore?

  8. Common Sense 2 says:

    Really, really poor judgment. This is child endangerment. My heart aches for the 2 children who died. You can’t pick your parents. And one here had extremely poor judgment.

  9. JackieM says:

    Prayers to Dan & his family during this difficult time.

  10. Honestly says:

    Hey, they seem like a nice conservative Catholic Republican family. I was only trying to make them feel better. I suppose I could have said that “the children pay for the sins of the father”.

  11. Kevin says:

    Ummm…this coward pos should be in jaiil!!! You fu*king leave your children in the water….and save your own arse??? SHOOT HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cleanse the gene pool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. jackactionhero says:

    He swam for help? LOL

    He swam for his life. Most dads I know would die trying to save their kids, not swim away for help to leave THEM to die.

  13. Elmer says:

    I feel bad for the man and his family but you have to admit that was one hair brained move on his part. It’s not a bad thing to point out how stupid it was, maybe calling him out on it will make someone else will think twice and use some common sense before they put their kids in danger.

  14. dayoopergal says:

    I am ashamed to say the first thought I had was why in the world would you take a sailboat out when the water is so cold. What was the dad thinking? An hour later, I found a story about a person who lost her two siblings, when they went out to play in the middle of winter. They fell through the ice and drowned. She went on to relate that the hardest part, aside from the death of her siblings, was that the children and parents from her school constantly blamed her mother for their death. She further stated that her mother was so racked with guilt, shame and pain that she could no longer be the type of parent the children needed.

    Words hurt people and before we all begin to judge this man, we should support him in the overwhelming grief he is dealing with. This father does not need your comments about his decision to take his kids on boat ride. He doesn’t need to be ridiculed, harassed or talked down to. What he needs is to be supported while he buries his two sons and fights for his other son’s life.

    Please think before some of you speak.

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