National Guard joins search for 2 missing canoeists in BWCA

Published 5:26 pm Friday, May 24, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Andrew Krueger and Anna Haecherl

The Minnesota National Guard has joined the search for two missing canoeists in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday authorized the Guard to assist with the search and rescue operation.

Email newsletter signup

The missing canoeists have been identified as Jesse Haugen, 41, of Cambridge, and Reis Grams, 40, of Lino Lakes.

The two men have been missing since last Saturday. They were among four people who went over Curtain Falls, which drops 30 feet between Crooked and Iron Lakes along the Canadian border. Another man was seriously injured.

The search for the two missing men has been hampered by poor weather and rising water levels.

A National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter helped transport equipment, including a boat, to the remote search scene on Thursday.

The canoeists were fishing above the falls when “something happened, one of them got in distress, the other one tried to give some assistance, and they both ended up going over the falls,” Nate Skelton, division commander with the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, told MPR News earlier this week.

Skelton said search teams were concentrating their efforts at the base of the falls earlier this week, where it flows into Iron Lake. If they don’t find anything there, they’d gradually move into Iron Lake.

Search crews have been using remote operated vehicles, or ROVs — essentially mini-submarines that are used to search underwater in lieu of dive teams. The devices are able to get a clear view underwater using sonar and high-resolution cameras.