It took the quick actions of five people to save a capsized canoeist on Tamarac Lake in August 2020.
Those individuals were honored with special Life Saver Awards by Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander during a meeting of the Becker County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, Feb. 16.
Becker County Sheriff's Office Deputy Adam Douglas, Becker County Sheriff's Office Communications Officer Lynn Schulberg, Detroit Lakes Fire Chief Ryan Swanson, Jeff Friesen and Christine Hoffart each played a critical role in the rescue of the drowning man, Glander said.
"The quick response and successful efforts of all of you were instrumental in saving the man's life," said Glander, during the awards ceremony. "These life saving awards are well deserved."
On Aug. 9, 2020, a storm front was moving into Becker County; bringing the threat of high winds, Glander said. At approximately 2:47 p.m., a 58-year-old man called 911 and Schulberg was on the other end of the line of the emergency call.
The man told her he had capsized his canoe on Tamarac Lake and he was in the water clinging to a floating seat cushion, but the high wind was blowing him across the lake. Schulberg stayed on the line with him.
At that point, emergency personnel from the sheriff's office, Detroit Lakes Fire Department, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Frazee Rescue and the Mahnomen County Sheriff's Office responded to the call.
"Fire Chief Ryan Swanson and Deputy Adam Douglas arrived at the access at 3:04 p.m., and 3:05 p.m., respectively," said Glander. However, neither of them had a boat.
Using flashlights and their vehicle's emergency lights, he said they attracted the attention of Friesen and Hoffart, who were fishing nearby. The couple pulled into shore and Douglas boarded the boat.
The canoeist was struggling to stay above water and he asked Schulberg to contact different people for him, Glander said. She took down the numbers, but vowed to stay on the line with the man until he was rescued. Then, they prayed together.
Friesen, Hoffart and Douglas were able to locate the struggling man in the water and pulled him into their boat, which made its way to shore where Chief Swanson was ready to assist.
The canoeist was treated at the scene for potential hypothermia by emergency medical personnel, but survived. He was then taken to the sheriff's office by Douglas where a friend was waiting for him with a spare set of keys to his vehicle.
Officials from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources also presented awards to the two civilians, Friesen and Hoffart, for going "above-and-beyond" in their assistance with the rescue.
Family members, friends and co-workers showered the five rescuers with applause as they each accepted their awards.