Lake of the Woods boating survivor tells of engine fumes killing two buddies

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 4, 2013 - 12:56 PM

Christopher Klick said he was unconscious for hours as big waves tossed the boat on Lake of the Woods.

 

Christopher Klick awoke in pitch dark, disoriented and battered as the stalled boat bucked big waves on Lake of the Woods. He was pretty sure his two pals were dead on the deck nearby.

The boat’s engine-exhaust fumes must have somehow blown back into the partly enclosed deck as they were fishing Sunday evening, he said from a Grand Forks, N.D., hospital bed Tuesday.

“I woke up in the boat in the middle of the water with my two buddies dead, and the boat almost full of water,” said Klick, 43, of Crystal. “And I was able to drive it and navigate it back to shore.”

Autopsies by the Ramsey County medical examiner’s office reported that Klick’s friends — Lonnie Ray Norberg, 44, and Jeff Wheeler, 35, both of Champlin — died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

“I don’t know how I made it,” Klick said. “I was out for four hours, and burned and bruised and battered from head to toe. I got a concussion. I can’t walk.”

They had been floating in Norberg’s 30-foot boat in the huge lake on the Canadian border. “The last time I remember it being was six thirty,” Klick said. “I went from being wide-awake to not remembering a thing, and waking up four or five hours later in the pitch black, freezing cold, drenched wet, bruised, burned and my knee swollen.”

Tall waves had violently rocked the boat, throwing him around the deck and into the engine, he said. Barely able to stand on torn knee ligaments, Klick managed to start the boat.

“I saw lights on shore, so I just drove to that area, where I saw the lights,” he said, adding that it took 10 or 15 long minutes.

He tried to call 911 with his cellphone. Sheriff’s dispatcher Cherie Anderson confirmed taking the call at 11:18 p.m. but said she could hear nothing on the line, except for a “glug, glug, glug” sound that she said sounded like water.

She called the phone company to try to learn who owned the cellphone.

Klick continued toward land, chilled to the bone.

“I flipped the spotlight,” he said. “Shining the spotlight on and off at this area where I saw there were people, and was on the horn of the boat, and got their attention before I got to shore, and was hollering out to them to call 911.”

Klick said he “ran the boat up onto the shore.”

Rescue workers arrived at 11:30 p.m. and found his two friends dead.

Tuesday night, Klick anguished over what went wrong. The boat has an inboard motor, he said. They were on the main part of the boat, on a fishing deck. The boat has a hard top, and where the helm is located is semi-enclosed but a person can walk all the way through.

“We were done fishing, and we were heading for shore. The wind was at our back, and there must have been just some kind of an exhaust leak or an exhaust malfunction, and there was enough exhaust in that engine area that it wasn’t escaping and it was able to blow up into the area that we were in,” Klick said.

“I don’t know, don’t have any answers,” he said Tuesday. “The wind was at 10 miles an hour, so there was wind. We were in an open area. It’s not like we were in a sealed area with a heater … so it’s just unbelievable. Unexplainable.”

  • related content

  • Graphic: Danger on the water

    Wednesday September 4, 2013

    Boating poses several ways to get CO poisoning — such as high levels near diving...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close