A former superintendent of the Cass Lake-Bena School District died Tuesday after falling through the ice near Pierre, S.D., while trying to rescue his dog.
Carl Eugene Remmers, 66, drowned after falling through the ice on the Missouri River near a campground area east of the city.
"It's a tragic but simple accident," said Hughes County Sheriff Sgt. Darin Johnson.
Remmers was walking his golden retriever at a recreation area east of town and the dog ran onto the ice, which broke, Johnson said.
According to Johnson:
Remmers attempted to save the dog, and also broke through the ice. A witness called 911 to report the accident about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"It was a stroke of luck somebody was there," he said.
However, a rescue team had difficulty reaching Remmers because the ice was too thin to walk on and too thick for a boat.
Rescuers had to break through the ice, but it took more than an hour to reach Remmers.
Johnson said Remmers was found by divers near a hole where he fell in, which was not visible from shore.
Once rescuers brought Remmers to shore, they turned their attention to the dog, which was treading water the entire time about 100 yards from shore.
Remmers was pronounced dead about 6:45 p.m. at a Pierre hospital. The dog was treated for hypothermia.
Pattie Reiplinger, food services director who worked in the same building as Remmers while he was working for the Cass Lake-Bena School District, said Remmers moved to Pierre last November.
Reiplinger and her husband, Tim, own Highland Inn Resort on Cass Lake, where Remmers lived with his wife, Mavis.
"I remember him walking his dog every day up the driveway (at the resort) and smoking his pipe," Reiplinger said Wednesday. "I would see him every day doing that when I went to school and every day when I came home."
Mavis Remmers had recently visited her husband in Pierre.
Reiplinger said she will miss Carl Remmers.
"I always liked Carl and I enjoyed working with him," Reiplinger said. "He never was a micro-manager. He hired good people and let them do their work. He was a nice, gentle man."
Remmers began his tenure in the Cass Lake-Bena district in 2005 but resigned in 2010 after he was charged with inappropriately touching a 17-year-old boy.
Last year, Remmers pleaded guilty to gross misdemeanor criminal sexual conduct and sentenced to one year in jail with 275 days stayed for two years. A police report said Remmers asked the boy for forgiveness and couldn't explain why he touched him.