Teens survive tumbling into rapids while canoing BWCAW
ELY -- Three teenage members of a Rochester church group are safe -- although one remained in a hospital Wednesday -- after a harrowing day in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness when they lost control of their canoe in rapids above a water...
ELY - Three teenage members of a Rochester church group are safe - although one remained in a hospital Wednesday - after a harrowing day in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness when they lost control of their canoe in rapids above a waterfall on the Basswood River.
Lake County Sheriff Carey Johnson said one member of the group, a 15-year-old boy, was being treated at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital on Wednesday, a day after suffering hypothermia and trauma to his leg, which was caught between the damaged canoe and rocks.
The force of the water above the falls trapped the canoe against the teen who was “nearly unconscious” by the time rescuers freed him from the river Tuesday evening, officials said.
The incident occurred Tuesday morning where the Basswood River flows out of Basswood Lake and into Crooked Lake, along the Minnesota-Ontario border about 20 miles northeast of Ely. According to the sheriff’s office, the 911 call came in just after 1 p.m. Tuesday, reporting that a boy was trapped in the water. The upper falls in that area reportedly are 20-30 feet high. But it’s not a straight drop, more of a steep rapids or chute.
Rescue crews from Lake County Sheriff’s Office were flown part of the way to the scene in the BWCAW by a U.S. Forest Service floatplane, and then traveled by canoe. They reached the scene just after 3 p.m. and found the boy in rapids above the falls with his leg pinned between the rocks and the canoe.
The boy was freed at about 5 p.m., Johnson said. But it took more than two additional hours for a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter to get there. The boy was airlifted from the scene and transferred to a Forest Service floatplane, and then to an ambulance to be taken to the Ely hospital.
Johnson said the boy’s leg was badly crushed but not broken. The other two teenage boys in the canoe did not suffer serious injuries.
Officials credited staff from the Boy Scouts of America’s Northern Tier National High Adventure Base with both reporting the accident and also staying with the victims and aiding in the rescue.
The St. Louis County Rescue Squad, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Morse-Fall Lake Township Fire Department also assisted in the rescue.