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'Close call' on Melvin's houseboat

The houseboat looks good Tuesday at the dock at Melvin's after a storm earlier in the day flooded a portion of the boat, causing it to list. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

SPICER -- One man was overcome by carbon monoxide Tuesday while helping rescue a popular houseboat used for cruises on Green Lake.

Chris Pientka, owner of Four Seasons Lawn and Beach Service, was operating pumps used to raise the partially submerged boat. He was transported to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar and airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he was placed in a hyperbaric chamber. Family members reported Tuesday afternoon that he was in stable condition.

The popular houseboat cruises on Green Lake, offered by Melvin's on the Lake, could be resumed as early as next week, according to Dave Baker, co-owner of the lakeside restaurant.

Rough weather and heavy waves Monday night battered the stern of the 56-foot houseboat, causing it to partially submerge where it was docked.

Baker said the craft was raised and floating properly by noon Tuesday.

He discovered the partially submerged craft about 5 a.m., and summoned help. Pientka arrived with large pumps.

There was damage to the rear of the craft, and the engine room was submerged. The cabin and other parts of the craft are in need of some cleaning, and professionals were at work on it, according to Baker.

He said scheduled outings had to be cancelled for the next few days, but the houseboat should be back in full operations in time for the busy July 4 weekend. The houseboat can carry 55 people.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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