8/7/2014 3:09:00 PM Three CF brothers-in-law save three drowning brothers on Mille Lacs
by Ken Haggerty
Three Cannon Falls men, Steve VanGuilder, Dave Weller, and Jim Amacher, related as brothers-in-law (married to sisters Jackie, Shirley and Pam Meyers) rescued three St. Paul brothers from drowning on Saturday, July 26 after the brothers' boat had sunk on Mille Lacs in a fast developing storm that afternoon.
The Cannon Falls brothers-in-law had been out fishing on the flats of Mille Lacs and had pulled anchor as the winds estimated at over 30 mph had arisen and were making things too choppy to hold anchor. Just to the north in Aiken, winds were at 60 mph.
VanGuilder said they were just heading to shore when he just caught a glimpse of the three heads bobbing in the water amid two to three foot waves.
The St. Paul men, aged 25 to 35, who had a smaller boat, had been heading to the casino marina when a wave sunk their boat in an instant. They were two miles from shore, in 30 feet of water, and had only a small child-sized flotation device among them. Water made cell phones inoperable.
One of the men had gone under water three times and had been puking water in the huge lake. VanGuilder said the men told them two boats had already gone by without seeing them. "They were convinced if we hadn't stopped, they would have been dead in five minutes," said VanGuilder.
VanGuilder said the rough conditions made him wary of getting too close to the men in the water. He came in 30 feet upwind and drifted into them. Two waves pushed them basically right on top of the men. The one St. Paul brother was about 300 pounds and it took two of the Cannon Falls men to hoist him to safety.
VanGuilder was able to lock in GPS coordinates of where the boat went down and the brothers said they will try and do a dive and salvage.
The experience left the Cannon Falls men too hyped up to enjoy fishing later that day after the waters had calmed. "The whole thing just seemed unreal," said VanGuilder.