ELY, Minn. (AP) — A Boy Scout party of eight was safely rescued by boat and floatplane after their two canoes capsized on a windswept and misty lake in the Boundary Water Canoe Area in far northeastern Minnesota, officials said Friday.
The air and sea rescue was completed around sunset Thursday on Basswood Lake, north of Ely. Afterward, the five Scouts, their two leaders and a local Scout guide were soggy and shaking off mild hypothermia, the Star Tribune ( ) reported.
All eight who were in the water at some point had on life jackets, and “without those, we probably would’ve had a very different outcome,” said Justin Mayne, a captain with the Lake County Rescue Squad.
“The wind was really kicking up,” Mayne said. “In certain areas, it was 25 to 30 miles per hour with major gusts up to 40.”
Mayne said the first call that the canoes had capsized and were missing came about 4:20 p.m. Thursday. Within a half-hour the searchers found three of the missing canoeists near Canadian Point. The other five were spotted on land just north of Washington Island another half-hour later, Mayne said. Six of the eight were brought to safety on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service float plane, and the other two by boat, Mayne said.
“They were doing fairly well,” said Mayne. “They were in good spirits. Obviously, a little wet.”
Everyone was accounted for and safe before 7 p.m., said State Patrol Lt. Matt Nelson, who heads the St. Paul-based Minnesota Air Rescue Team (MART). Soon after, they were checked out at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital.
The boys and their leaders were participating in a Northern Tier High Adventure Program, based in Ely and operated by the Boy Scouts of America. The Scouts, ages 15 to 17, and their two leaders were from a troop based in the Cincinnati suburb of West Chester, the Star Tribune reported.
“The last thing I said before he left was, ‘Keep my boys safe,’ ” said Diana Hudson, whose husband, Howard, was on the trip with her twin 15-year-old sons.
Hudson, who spoke with her 55-year-old husband once he had dried off, said her family members were in the canoe that capsized when “a big storm came up,” while the other canoe was pushed to a shoreline by the relentless winds and waves.
“My husband was in the water for about an hour before someone (in the group) grabbed him and pulled him to shore,” she told the Star Tribune. “He’s a survivalist. He knows what he’s doing up there.”
Kevin Dowling, Northern Tier’s general manager, said the Scouts were nearing the end of their five-day adventure and he was relieved to say that everybody was OK.
“We can’t thank the rescuers’ efforts enough for all they did last night for a wonderful outcome,” Dowling said.
Information from: Star Tribune,