A Minneapolis man fell from a pontoon in a northern Minnesota lake and had his arm “severely lacerated” by the propeller and lost consciousness, authorities said.
David Cass, 30, of Minneapolis, is in the intensive care unit of Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, a hospital spokeswoman said Friday. She did not have a specific condition for Cass.
Early Wednesday afternoon, Cass was operating the pontoon on Lake Belle Taine, about 11 miles east of Park Rapids, and had two passengers along, according to the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office.
Cass moved to the front of the pontoon, fell into the lake and was struck by the propeller.
Sheriff’s deputies and medical personnel called to the scene found Cass “unconscious and with a severely lacerated arm,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
After first responders began resuscitation efforts, Cass was flown to Fargo for treatment of “life-threatening injuries,” the statement added.
A Sheriff’s Office official said alcohol “may have been a factor” leading to Cass’ injuries.
This incident comes as the state Department of Natural Resources and other agencies in the state are enforcing “Operation Dry Water” starting Friday and continuing throughout the weekend in hopes of cracking down on boaters navigating while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
Last year in Minnesota, alcohol was a contributing factor in 33 percent of the deadly boating accidents, according to the DNR.
“We have zero tolerance for anyone found operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs on our waters,” said Capt. Greg Salo, the DNR’s central region manager for enforcement. “No one should ever get hurt or even die because a boat operator decided to drink alcohol.”
Operating a boat with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher is against the law.
Last year, 158 people were arrested for boating while intoxicated in Minnesota. Ninety-one of those arrests occurred in the state’s most populous county, Hennepin.
“There are severe consequences for boating while intoxicated,” Salo said. “But we’d rather arrest someone than to have to tell their friends and family that they’re never coming home.”
Boaters caught operating under the influence will have their boat impounded at the scene. Additional penalties can include arrest, fines and loss of boating privileges.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482