Weather Forecast


Authorities recover sailboat in lake

Clearwater County Sheriff Sgt. Ryan Solee examines the 10-foot fiberglass sailboat recovered from Clearwater Lake last Thursday. The Sheriff's Office used sophisticated sonar equipment to locate the boat, which sunk April 6, about 300 yards east of High Island. Submitted photo

BAGLEY - More than a month after a fatal sailboat accident, the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office has recovered a 10-foot fiberglass sailboat that sunk with four people aboard.

The Clearwater County Sheriff's Office recovered the sailboat Thursday in Clearwater Lake, about 300 yards east of High Island.

The April 6 accident left two children dead and sent a third to the hospital in critical condition.

"Deputies and volunteers have worked many hours searching for the boat," Clearwater County Sheriff's Sgt. Ryan Solee said in a news release Monday. "We could not have done this without the tireless efforts of a couple of individuals."

Dan Risland of Leonard and his three boys were sailing on Clearwater Lake when the 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 Risland, 8, is recovering in a St. Paul hospital. His brothers, 6-year-old Zechariah and 2-year-old Jacob, died in the accident, apparently from hypothermia.

Solee said Bruce Cox, the Clearwater County land commissioner, lent sophisticated sonar equipment in the recovery effort.

In addition, Stuart Lien, who works for the county's information technology department, provided several pieces of GPS mapping equipment.

"These two men combined their talents and were able to set up a search pattern that ultimately lead to the discovery of the boat," Solee said.

Last Thursday, Deputy Neil Illies, one of the Sheriff's Office certified scuba divers, tied ropes to the sailboat, found in about 30 feet of water.

A team of deputies and volunteers hoisted the boat to the surface before it was brought to shore.

Previously, Clearwater County Sheriff Mike Erickson ruled the incident an accident, but said the investigation wouldn't be complete until the boat was recovered. He said there would be no criminal charges.

The family has not spoken publicly about the accident, but two of Isaiah Risland's aunts, Tia Wallin and Sara Staley, have posted frequent updates on the boy's CaringBridge website.

His aunts documented significant progress in Isaiah's recovery.

"He's talking about going fishing this summer and riding his bike so he has his goals that he is working towards and that can be a great motivator," Tia Wallin wrote earlier this month.

He is now undergoing therapy at Gillette Hospital in St. Paul after spending about a month at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis.

Last week, in a meeting to discuss Isaiah's progress, doctors said the boy could be released from the hospital as early as June 1, Staley wrote in an online journal entry.

Those interested in sending cards to Isaiah can address them to Gillette's Children's Specialty Healthcare, Attention Rehabilitation/Neurology, Isaiah Risland, 200 University Ave. E., St. Paul, MN 55101.


Visit Isaiah Risland's CaringBridge website at

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