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Minneapolis man dies after canoe capsizes on Sawbill Lake

Cook County Sheriff's Office
Cook County Sheriff's Office

Around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 10, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and Cook County Search & Rescue responded to a water emergency involving a capsized canoe on Sawbill Lake near the portage to Kelso Lake, about 25 miles north of Tofte, in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). 
 
Niles Richard Schulz, 75, of Minneapolis, was on the lake paddling his canoe, when the rest of his party heard a splash and saw him standing up trying to right the tipped over canoe. Schulz tried unsuccessfully to right the canoe, and then went under the water. After others unsuccessfully attempted to locate him in the water, another member of his party paddled out to call 911 from the Sawbill Canoe Outfitters.

Schulz was camping with two other adults and two children.  He was not wearing a life jacket.
 
Assistance from a U.S. Forest Service Beaver aircraft was requested, as well as permission for responders to use a motorized boat to access the remote area in the BWCA.
 
Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Cook County Search & Rescue, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer, 1854 Treaty Authority law enforcement, along with a Cook County’s emergency chaplain, staged at the Sawbill boat landing.
 
At approximately 5:30 pm, Schulz’ body was recovered from the water by responders and transferred to North Shore Health Hospital in Grand Marais. An autopsy will be completed to confirm cause of death.
 
“The outcome of today’s search was heartbreaking,” said Sheriff Pat Eliasen. “Our condolences are with the victim’s family and other members of his party.”