Northern Minnesota teenager loses life while saving young relatives struggling in lake
Eighteen-year-old Raina Lynn Neeland, of Bagley, drowned Monday afternoon in Clearwater Lake near the dam while rescuing younger relatives who were struggling in the water, according to the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office.
“Raina jumped in without hesitation and pulled three little ones out and kind of threw them out to the bank,” said Jeremy Neeland, the teen’s uncle. “She’s one of a kind.”
Her family said Raina did not make it out, but the kids she saved, some in life jackets, were all safe.
“It’s a tragic event as it is, but it would have been much worse without her actions,” said Sheriff Darin Halverson.
An 8-year-old girl who had been rescued from the water was resuscitated after CPR was conducted by a witness on the shore, according to the sheriff’s office.
Halverson said people often ride the water from Clearwater Lake over the dam like a waterslide, adding there are no signs from the water-level about going over the dam to the river below.
“It’s a popular spot kids and families have been going there for years,” Halverson said.
But this time, he says the kids struggled to get out of the strong water in the river below.
“We’ve had a lot of rain up here the water level is high and rushing over a lot harder right now so the bottom side of the dam it’s very turbulent,” said Sheriff Halverson.
The sheriff plans to talk with county officials to see about possible safety improvements in the area after the drowning.
Neeland’s family has created a GoFundMe page to help with costs associated with her funeral and family needs.
“She always helped where help was needed,” said Jeremy Neeland, the victim’s uncle.