Ice fishermen rescued after harrowing search on northern MN lake

The four anglers got stuck in the slush while on their snowmobiles.
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Search teams saved four fishermen stranded on a remote lake in northern Minnesota after an at times harrowing rescue attempt.

The anglers were on their snowmobiles when they got stuck in the slush on Greenwood Lake, near Cook, around 3 p.m. Sunday.

They had been staying at a friend's cabin on the lake, and while stuck they were able to pick up a Canadian cellular signal and called Ontatio Provincial Police.

They in turn informed the Cook County Sheriff's Office, prompting a rescue effort by several Minnesota organizations.

The difficulty was that the anglers weren't able to tell authorities their location on the lake, and on the way out to find them, deputies also got stuck while riding snowmobiles on the lake, where there was around 14 inches of slush reported.

One of the deputies was able to get out and raised the alarm, with officers then using long-track snowmobiles and snowshoes to search the 2,043-acre lake.

"Visibility was very limited due to 50 mph wind gusts," the Cook County Sheriff's Office notes, but they were eventually able to find them at 5:50 p.m. about 2 miles in from a landing off of Greenwood Lake Road and Fire Box Road.

One of the anglers was showing signs of advanced hypothermia, frostbite and dehydration after being stuck for hours in the extreme cold.

He was stabilized on the way to an ambulance, which then took him to a hospital for further treatment.

Even then there were problems, given that the roads in the area are generally impassable at this time of year, and it was only because of local plower Al Berglund was on hand to clear access for the ambulance.

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“We are fortunate to have dedicated emergency response units who risk their own lives going out in conditions like this to rescue strangers, along with our 911 professionals who manage these calls and responder safety from start to finish,” said Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen. 

"We are grateful we were able to get these folks out alive and that all of the responders are going home safely tonight. I highly commend everyone who took part in this operation during extremely tough conditions today.

"We strongly recommend people heed weather warnings and conditions, let people know where you are going and how long you expect to be gone.”

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