BEMIDJI -- A man’s body was recovered from the icy waters of Lake Irving on Monday evening after a vehicle went through the ice on Sunday afternoon.
The victim’s name is being publicly withheld until confirmation by the medical examiner, but the man has been identified by family members as 58-year-old Jim Wizner, of Bemidji, according to an email sent to the Pioneer by his brother, Jeff Wizner.
According to the original report from Beltrami County Sheriff Ernie Beitel, around 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 10, the sheriff’s office was advised of a vehicle possibly going through the ice on Lake Irving -- a 660-acre lake located in the southern part of Bemidji. Beltrami County Deputies and Bemidji Fire Department responded to the scene and located a set of tire tracks that led to a hole in the ice in an area known to have unstable ice.
Upon arrival, Beltrami County Deputies used an unmanned aircraft system and Bemidji Fire Department deployed a hovercraft and underwater camera to search the area, the release said.
Divers from the Lakes Area Dive Team arrived on scene and confirmed that a vehicle was located below the ice. Divers and emergency personnel continued to search the area until darkness limited their visibility. As of Monday afternoon, a search for the occupant of the vehicle was still ongoing, Sheriff Beitel said.
At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Monday evening, Jan. 11, searchers recovered the body of an adult male victim from Lake Irving.
The deceased was located with the assistance of an underwater remotely operated vehicle operated by the Red Lake Department of Public Safety Conservation Enforcement, a release from the Beltrami County Sheriff’s office said. The victim was transported to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.
“I just want to thank the water rescuers, Ryan and Tyson, (who with hard work and unwillingness to give up) were able to retrieve my brother from an accidental drowning in Lake Irving,” Jim’s brother, Jeff Wizner, said in an email to the Pioneer on Tuesday morning. “Thanks to all law enforcement and divers, and all (who helped), we are forever grateful.”
Working on the search and recovery were the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, the Bemidji Fire Department, Bemidji Police Department, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Enforcement, Red Lake Department of Public Safety Conservation Enforcement and the Lakes Area Dive Team volunteers.