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Isaiah talks, tells mother 'I love you'

MINNEAPOLIS - Isaiah Risland's recovery from hypothermia injuries suffered in a sailboat accident continue to encourage family members.

The 8-year-old Leonard boy called his grandfather Wednesday, and began to answer questions verbally.

His aunt, Sara Staley, updated Isaiah's online journal Wednesday night.

She's provided frequent reports on Isaiah's health as he recovers from the April 6 accident that killed his two younger brothers and left him hospitalized in Minneapolis.

The boys were sailing with their father, Dan Risland, when the boat sunk in Clearwater Lake, about 30 miles northwest of Bemidji. The brothers spent about an hour in 40-degree weather before first responders could get them out of the water.

Isaiah's voice is "quiet and squeaky," his father told Staley, who updated the boy's CaringBridge website.

But the boy showed important signs in his recovery.

"When the nurse asked him, 'Who's that over there?' He said, 'Daddy.'"

The nurse also asked Isaiah if he needed anything. He responded by telling her he'd like water and that he was hungry, Staley wrote.

"He also answered his birth month. He also has told his mommy, 'I love you,'" she wrote.

His mother, Ruth Risland, lives in Bemidji.

Isaiah, who is being treated for hypothermia-related injuries at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, was taken off the ventilator used to help his breathing on Wednesday morning.

Isaiah's younger brothers, 6-year-old Zechariah and 2-year-old Jacob, died in the accident. Their funeral was Tuesday in Clearbrook.

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

Dan Risland and his three boys were sailing on Clearwater Lake when the boat sank. 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. Zechariah and Jacob died, apparently from hypothermia, while emergency crews revived Isaiah, who was airlifted to Minneapolis.

Late last week, Isaiah began responding to voice by moving his limbs, and a magnetic resonance imaging test, or MRI, was "normal," Staley wrote

A benefit is planned from 1-5 p.m. Saturday at Evangelical Church, 5405 Hart Lane NW, Bemidji.

Steve Wagner

Grand Forks Herald Editor Steve Wagner can be reached at 701.780.1104 and He joined the Herald in April 2013, and previously worked as editor at the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer and in several roles -- including news director, investigative reporter and crime reporter - at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. His reporting experience includes coverage of Dru Sjodin's disappearance and the federal death penalty case for her murderer, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., along with several investigative projects. In his spare time, Wagner is an avid runner and occasionally writes about his experiences on his blog, Addicted to Running.

(701) 780-1104