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Paynesville Press - February 25, 2004

Paynesville graduate honored for ice rescue

By Michael Jacobson

The best catch Jason Krupke has made all winter was fishing a submerged snowmobiler from a lake in northern Minnesota.

Krupke, a 1999 PAHS graduate, was fishing with a couple friends on Bass Lake in Mahnomen County in early December when he helped rescue a snowmobiler from the icy water.

Bass Lake is a small lake, about 20 miles southeast of the city of Mahnomen. It has only a few year-round residences and a dozen seasonal residences, according to Mahnomen County Sheriff Brad Athmann, who happens to live on the lake..

The snowmobiler went through a patch of thin ice about a quarter mile from where Krupke was fishing. He and his friends, who did not see the snowmobiler immediately, eventually noticed him, but they had to walk around a stretch of open water between them, said Krupke. .

Krupke crawled out on the thin ice and tried to help the snowmobiler out of the water using a long stick. "It was really freaky," said Krupke. "When I walked up to him, I could see his legs kicking. The ice was that clear.".

The large man had a knife in his belt to help him hold on to the ice, but even with Krupke's help every time that he got on the ice, it broke..

A resident, who had seen the accident from across the lake, eventually crossed the ice, using a 17-foot canoe and gliding on top of the ice. .

Using the canoe and the stick, Krupke and the lake resident got the man into the canoe and to safety. The fire and rescue squad and officers from the sheriff's department arrived about the time that they had the victim to safety..

Krupke, who now lives in St. Cloud, estimated that it took about 45 minutes to get the man to safety..

For their efforts, Krupke and the lake resident were recently honored by the White Earth Tribal Council. They will also be nominated for the Minnesota Sheriffs Association's Lifesaving Award, which will be awarded in December 2004, said Athmann..

Krupke risked his life to help make the rescue, said Athmann. Without him and the lake resident, instead of a rescue, the incident might have become a recovery, added Athmann. "They did a wonderful job," he said..

While he and his friends did not catch any fish on this trip, Krupke said helping the man out of the water was satisfying enough. It was, he said, "my best catch of the year."

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