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Clearwater County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Todd Spray prepares to launch a boat earlier this week in the search for a 10-foot fiberglass sailboat that capsized April 6 on Clearwater Lake. Isaiah Risland, 8, continues to recover from injuries in the accident. His brothers, 6-year-old Zechariah and 2-year-old Jacob, died in the accident. Submitted photo

Out of ICU, Isaiah Risland's therapy includes walking

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MINNEAPOLIS - After three weeks in an intensive care unit, an 8-year-old boy injured in a sailboat accident is recovering in a regular room at Children's Hospital here.

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It's a sign of significant improvement since Isaiah Risland suffered apparent hypothermia-related injuries April 6, when the sailboat he was in capsized in Clearwater Lake.

"He was very excited for a change of scenery and as he worked to put himself back to sleep after he woke up at 3 a.m.," his aunt, Tia Wallin, wrote Friday on the CaringBridge website, which provides family an avenue to provide updates in journal form.

"This morning he was enjoying the new view of the city lights out his window."

In addition, Isaiah is undergoing daily physical and occupational therapy, including walking with braces.

Dan Risland and his three boys were sailing on Clearwater Lake, which stretches into Clearwater and Beltrami counties, when the 10-foot fiberglass boat sank about 3 p.m. April 6. The father swam to shore to summon help after being unable to get the boys to land.

The boys were wearing life jackets, but spent about an hour in 40-degree water until first responders could reach them.

Isaiah's brothers, 6-year-old Zechariah and 2-year-old Jacob, died in the accident, apparently from hypothermia. Emergency crews revived Isaiah, who was airlifted to Minneapolis.

Previously, Clearwater County Sheriff Mike Erickson ruled out criminal charges.

His office, though, is investigating the accident to determine why the sailboat sank and it continues searching for the boat.

In a news release this week, Sheriff's Sgt. Ryan Solee said "a couple points of interest" have been identified.

Sheriff's deputies plan to use underwater cameras and possibly divers to look at the areas where the boat might be.

Recovering the boat has been difficult since officials believe the boat is in a state of "neutral buoyancy," meaning it sunk but not completely to the bottom, Solee said.

The lake's currents have pushed the boat around beneath the water surface, possibly quite far from where it capsized, Solee said.

Wallin and Sara Staley, also one of Isaiah's aunts, have written daily progress reports on Isaiah's CaringBridge website.

"I want to take a minute and thank everyone for all their prayers not only for Isaiah," Wallin wrote Thursday. "Isaiah is a miracle and it is God's healing hand that is seeing him through this and each and every prayer that you send up is a vital part of his recovery process, so thank you from all of us.

"There is nothing he needs more than to have people pray for him and let him know how much he is loved."

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Steve Wagner
Grand Forks Herald Editor Steve Wagner can be reached at 701.780.1104 and swagner@gfherald.com. Prior to joining the Herald, Wagner worked at the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer and The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He also previously worked at newspapers in the Twin Cities and Iowa.
(701) 780-1104
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