Clearwater County Sheriff Mike Erickson called it an accident and a terrible tragedy …
2 children gone, a third critically injured, after the three and their father fell into frigid Clearwater Lake north of Leonard, while boating Friday afternoon.
First responders pulled the unresponsive children from the water after their father, Dan Risland, swam for help against the strong winds and current. With 8 agencies responding the children – all in life jackets – had been in the water more than 45 minutes when the first rescuers arrived. In spite of their efforts Sheriff Erickson reported the two youngest, 2 year old Jacob and a 6 year Zech – died, the initial cause, hypothermia – 8 year old Isaiah Risland was airlifted from Sanford Health in Bemidji in critical condition.
Sheriff Erickson said the children and their father were sailing in a new boat for the first time when the small craft capsized on the lake. The 911 call came in at 3:15pm.
The air temperature was right around 60 degrees with winds just over 20 miles per hour at the time of the accident, the Department of Natural Resources reporting lake water at less than 40 degrees across Northern Minnesota.
The DNR was on the scene Friday, along with Clearbrook Police and Fire Fighters, Sheriff’s Officers, Ambulance and Northland First Responders. Emergency personnel worked for hours at the scene and at hospitals in Bemidji and Bagley to revive the children, with counseling – also known as Critical Incident Stress Debriefing – now being offered to all.
The Risland’s are divorced. Their mother, Ruth, lives in Bemidji. The family has asked for prayers in the wake of the tragedy.