Wednesday, July 18, 2007
At about 8:15 p.m. Monday, authorities received a call of someone with a medical condition needing assistance.
According to the Pine County Sheriff's Office, a group had gone tubing on the river when Martin Rike's tube went flat about two miles south of Fox Landing.
After attempting to get out of the water and walk back, Rike, 39, began having chest pains. He had also slipped on irregular rocks, injuring an ankle and a knee.
When crews attempted to rescue Rike by boat, they found the water was too shallow, causing the boat to get caught on the rocks.
Dispatch said Rike weighed about 500 pounds and said his weight was a factor in how long it took crews to rescue him.
At 5 a.m. Tuesday, a hovercraft was dispatched to try to retrieve Rike, who authorities said remained alert and conscious throughout his ordeal. Soon after, authorities reported the hovercraft effort had failed.
"Every resource we had simply did not work until we got down to physical manpower," Chief Deputy Ovick said. "The aircraft that found him said they could not lift that amount of weight."
Burnett County authorities said they were trying to recruit a helicopter from Traverse City, Mich., the closest location with a hoist.
Eventually authorities managed to load Rike into a raft made of wood and three canoes.
"There wasn't enough water for it to float, so they physically used that as a stretcher," Ovick said.
Some 40 to 50 rescuers took turns hoisting the boat, carrying it two feet at a time until they found a spot in the river deep enough for the boat to float down to a waiting ambulance.
Rike was pulled from the river around 8 a.m., nearly 12 hours after rescue attempts began.
"It was very taxing. It was probably 70 degrees and the humidity was very high last night," Ovick said. "Lifting him, moving two feet at a time, you get tired real quick with 600 pounds of cargo."
Rike was taken to Burnett Medical Center in Granstburg, where he was reported to be in stable condition.
Rike, contacted by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis at his home Tuesday night, said he went on his first tubing trip because of his doctor's suggestion to take up a fun but safe activity, but "the farther we went on the St. Croix River, the worse the conditions got."
He said he appreciated everything done to rescue him.
"Without those people, I would still be out there," he said.
Witnesses said Victoria Walker became enraged after the victim and her children were allowed ahead of her at the "Mad Tea Party' ride in May.
Walker was questioned after the incident and allowed to return to her Alabama home.
However, when a judge noticed how severe the victim's injuries were, he signed an arrest warrant for Walker.
It took deputies nearly two months to catch up with the woman but she was picked up on a warrant in Alabama and transported back to Orange County.
She bonded out of jail Tuesday.
BRAINTREE, Mass. -- The Braintree Fire Department is investigating how firefighters participating in a training exercise ended up tearing apart the wrong house.
A Braintree family invited the fire department to conduct a training exercise at their home that was slated to be torn down. But instead of going to 6 Harrison Ave., firefighters ended up a few blocks away at 30 Coolidge Ave.
"My brother called me. He got a phone call and then he called me to come out and look at it," the Coolidge Avenue homeowner's son, Jeffrey Luu, said.
The firefighters were practicing ventilating burning buildings by tearing holes in the roof.
After waiting for the fire department to arrive, contractors ended up demolishing the Harrison Avenue home.
"How can you make that mistake? I don't know," Luu said. "I want to get the assessment of the damage. I just want to fix the house."
The Coolidge Avenue home was vacant after an electrical fire about 14 moths ago. The homeowners were planning to renovate the home.
The town apologized to the family. Fire officials were unavailable for comment, but released a statement that read, "The matter is under internal investigation."