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60-year-old Man Drowns in Lake Nichols Trying to Help Grandchildren

Updated: 07/18/2014 11:23 PM
Created: 07/18/2014 3:32 PM WDIO.com

Emergency responders rushed to the scene on Lake Nichols around 1 p.m. on Friday, which is near Canyon, on a report of a drowning.

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Department says that 60-year-old Douglas Yentsch from Janesville, Minn., was recovered in 12 feet of water. 

Authorities said he was in the water for nearly 30 minutes. 

The initial call was for a six-year-old and two-year-old missing -- Yentsch's grandchildren -- in the water.

The children, who were wearing life jackets, fell off a tube being pulled behind a paddle boat by Yentsch. The young children panicked, and Yentsch jumped in to help. The two children were accounted for, but Yentsch, who was not wearing a life jacket, never resurfaced. 

A rescue helicopter landed on Highway 53, which blocked southbound traffic for about 30 minutes, but medical crews were unable to revive the victim at the scene.

St. Louis County Undersheriff Dave Phillips says water emergencies are traumatic for everyone involved.

“Generally, they involve some recreational activity, someone swimming, someone fishing, in this case someone on a paddle boat. The tragedy is it starts out fun, and, to have it end in loss of life, it's heartbreaking,” Phillips said.

A medical helicopter responding to the water emergency landed in the southbound lanes of U.S. Highway 53 on Friday afternoon.

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