Authorities Call Off Search Sunday Night for Missing Boater in Sturgeon Lake

July 08, 2018 10:29 PM

A 28-year-old man is missing after a boating excursion on Sturgeon Lake in Pine County Saturday evening.

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Pine County Sheriff Jeff Nelson said a call for help came in at 4:24 p.m. of a person missing in the water at Sturgeon Lake. 

Deputies, as well as first responders from Sturgeon Lake and Moose Lake Fire departments responded. Additional resources from the DNR as well as St. Louis County Rescue Squad were called in. Searchers worked until around 2 a.m. Sunday before calling it a night.

Emergency crews including K-9s, dive teams, boats equipped with sonar, even an underwater robot returned to search at 8 a.m. Sunday.  

According to Nelson, John Fanning and a friend were boating Saturday when high winds blew something out of the boat. Fanning jumped into the water to retrieve it as his friend tried to grab Fanning and rescue him. 

Fanning slipped away and drifted, eventually disappearing under the surface in water 20 to 30 feet deep. 

The friend, who hasn't been identified, told authorities Fanning was not wearing a life jacket.

Nelson offered a gentle reminder to all boaters.

"It happened so quickly, and we typically we hear, 'They were such a good swimmer.' Nobody would imagine that it could've happened until it does," Nelson said. "We want to make sure the message is clear, life jackets save lives."

A third day of searching will resume Monday morning. 


Tommy Wiita & Beth McDonough

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