Virginia man dies in boating accident
A 29-year-old Virginia man was killed in a boating accident on Lake Vermilion early Sunday. Casey Thomas Gilbertson was pronounced dead after a boat in which he was traveling sank shortly before 3 a.m. near Forest Lane Resort in Greenwood Township.
The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office received a call that a boat loaded with seven people had been traveling from Bayview Resort to Fortune Bay, when the vessel suddenly and rapidly began to take on water and soon slipped below the surface.
Dave Lamwers, owner of Forest Lane Resort, said he was awakened by cries for help.
"I heard someone yelling, and I couldn't decide if it was for real or someone fooling around or partying or something," he said.
Lamwers quickly pulled on some clothes and ran down to the lake. He started up a boat and headed toward the voices. He reached a woman in the water about 200 yards from shore and then cut the motor to fish her out.
"It was awful dark, and I pretty much went from voice to voice," he said.
Lamwers recovered three women and one man, returning them to shore.
Two others managed to swim to shore, where they were assisted by resort
co-owner Pat Lamwers and guest Greg O'Malley of Mountain Iron.
Another resort guest, Ella Polster, a nurse from Prior Lake, Minn., began tending to the boaters and treating them for the early stages of hypothermia. Lamwers said the surface temperature of the lake is in the 50s, but just 5 feet down, it's 8 to 10 degrees lower.
Lamwers said he and other boats continued to search into the morning for the seventh missing boater, but to no avail.
To the best of Lamwer's knowledge, none of the boaters recovered at the scene were wearing life preservers.
St. Louis County Search and Rescue Squad Capt. Tom Crossmon said Gilbertson's body was recovered by a drag team about 9 a.m. Gilbertson also was not wearing a personal flotation device and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a sheriff's report.
The sheriff's department continues to investigate the incident. Crossmon said it's unclear what caused the boat to sink or whether alcohol was involved.
Lamwers said he believes the boat that sank was a 16- or 17-foot Crestliner.