Angler's body recovered in Lac qui Parle Lake after fishing partners spot empty boat

WATSON - Searchers recovered the body of a 60-year-old man who apparently fell out of his boat while fishing Wednesday afternoon on Lac qui Parle Lake.

Tribune file photo The Minnesota Department of Transportatin will host an open house meeting on plans to replace the Milan Bridge from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on September 7 at the Milan City Hall.
The body of the 60-year-old man was found about one mile south of the Milan Bridge.
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WATSON – Searchers recovered the body of a 60-year-old man who apparently fell out of his boat while fishing Wednesday afternoon on Lac qui Parle Lake.

Richard Emil Abel, of Maynard, was believed to have been fishing by himself when he fell out of his boat, possibly due to a medical condition.

Two anglers discovered Abel’s unoccupied boat on the lake around 3:40 p.m. Wednesday and contacted the Lac qui Parle County Sheriff’s Office. Officers with the Lac qui Parle County, Chippewa County and Swift County sheriff’s offices and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources began a search of the area where the boat was found, about one mile south of the Milan Bridge.

The boat was not running or anchored, and a life vest was in its bow at the time.

Within about 10 minutes, searchers found a shoe and hat believed to belong to the victim near the Chippewa County shoreline of the lake, according to Chippewa County Sheriff Derek Olson.


Searchers recovered the body of the man at 4:16 p.m. Wednesday about 100 yards from shore in Dalen’s Bay on the Chippewa County side of the lake.

The empty boat and the body of its lone occupant were discovered by Chuck Ellingson, owner of the Watson Hunting Camp and a member of the Milan Fire Department, and fishing partner Justin Sieverding. They were pre-fishing the lake for the Pauly Larson Memorial Tournament this weekend.

Ellingson said they had been fishing north of the Milan Bridge, which is being removed, and decided to check out an area downstream. As they motored down the lake, the two noticed the empty boat in the middle of the lake.

Ellingson said they looked at each other and decided they had to check on it.

“I knew there was something wrong,” he said.

He could see that the boat’s anchor was up and he noticed that a tackle box was strung part-way over the boat.

“A gut-wrenching feeling that something bad had happened,” said Ellingson.

The two anglers contacted the Lac qui Parle County Sheriff’s Office and notified other anglers in the area to keep their eyes open. They began cruising the shoreline and heard the sirens as sheriff’s officers began arriving at the scene. They went back out with a deputy in search of the body.


Two anglers signaled to them that they saw something in the water about 200 yards from them. Ellingson, Sieverding and the sheriff’s deputy boated to the site and found the body.

There is high water and a strong current in the lake. The current was moving the victim to the south while the wind was pushing his boat to the north at about two miles an hour, Ellingson said. He believes the man did not have a chance of getting back to the boat as a result.

Sheriff Olson said the surface water temperature was 62 degrees at the time, which is cold enough to cause shock and hypothermia.

The body has been transported to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy. Sheriff Olson said there is no suspicion of foul play. It’s believed that Abel may have experienced a medical issue and fallen overboard.

Responding to the scene were the Chippewa County, Lac qui Parle County and Swift County sheriff’s offices, Milan Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Appleton Fire and Ambulance, Dawson Ambulance, Minnesota State Patrol and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Sheriff Olson said he extends his thanks to Ellingson and Sieverding for all of their assistance, as well as other anglers at the scene who volunteered to help and offered their boats.

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