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Boreal Emergency Preparedness Portal

Man Found Deceased After Canoe Capsizes on Sawbill Lake

Jul 11, 2018 02:06PM ● By Editor

Editor's Note:  This is the second drowning fatality in the BWCAW that Cook County First Responders have witnessed.  Both vicitims were not wearing life jackets.  The MN DNR highly recommends all paddlers wear life jackets at all times when on the water - no matter what age or swimming ability.  To learn more, follow this link to a paddling safety tips article on the Boreal Emergency Preparedness Portal.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office and Cook County Search & Rescue this afternoon responded to a water emergency involving a capsized canoe on Sawbill Lake near the portage to Kelso Lake, located about 25 miles north of Tofte, MN in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA). 

Niles Richard Schulz, age 75, of Minneapolis, was on the lake paddling his canoe, when the rest of his party heard a splash and saw him standing up trying to right the tipped over canoe. Schulz tried unsuccessfully to right the canoe, and then went under the water. After others unsuccessfully attempted to locate him in the water, another member of his party paddled out to call 911 from the Sawbill Canoe Outfitters. The victim was not wearing a life jacket. Schulz was camping with two other adults and two children.

Assistance from a USFS Beaver Aircraft was requested, as well as permission for responders to use a motorized boat to access the remote area in the BWCA. Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Cook County Search & Rescue, a MN Conservation Officer, 1854 Treaty Authority Law Enforcement, along with one of Cook County’s Emergency Chaplain, staged at the Sawbill Boat Landing. At approximately 5:30 pm, Schulz’ body was recovered from the water by responders and transferred to North Shore Health Hospital in Grand Marais. An autopsy will be completed to confirm cause of death.

“The outcome of today’s search was heartbreaking,” said Sheriff Pat Eliasen. “Our condolences are with the victim’s family and other members of his party.”

No further information is available at this time.


Contact:  Valerie Marasco, Public Information Officer/Director – Office of Emergency Management & Public Information, mobile 218-387-5366 or [email protected]

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