The body of a 56-year-old man who had been out boating was found floating in Big Kandiyohi Lake by a fisherman on Thursday night, authorities said Saturday.
Officers were called to the scene, about 20 miles southeast of Willmar, around 6:15 p.m. Thursday. The man was pulled from the lake and taken to Memorial Hospital in Willmar, where he was pronounced dead.
The man’s identity has not been released. His boat was also found on the lake, according to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office. The case remains under investigation.
Already this year, there have been at least seven drownings and three boating-related deaths in Minnesota, some of the earliest fatalities on record for the boating season. Last year, 17 people died in boating-related incidents.
On one of the busiest boating weekends of the year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued a plea for boaters to wear life jackets — a safety practice that dramatically increases the chances of surviving a fall into cold water.
“The shock of falling into cold water triggers your gasp reflex, which more than likely means inhaling water,” Lisa Dugan, boating safety coordinator with the DNR, said in a statement. “Wearing a life jacket gives you a fighting chance to get your head above water, stay calm instead of panicking, and call for help before hypothermia sets in.”