Sheriff’s Office stresses water safety after death on Lake Minnetonka

Smith’s Bay on Lake Minnetonka in Orono. (The Pioneer staff photo by Adam Quandt)

By Adam Quandt
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On June 1, Hennepin County Sheriff’s deputies recovered the body of an adult male in Smith’s Bay on Lake Minnetonka.

According to a press release, the body of 65-year-old Blaine resident David Carlson was found approximately 250 yards west of Brackett’s Point in Orono. Law enforcement officers searched the lake after locating an abandoned sailboat May 31.

The sheriff’s office is still investigating the case for cause and manner of death.
With temperatures rising and the arrival of summer weather, public safety officials are urging caution and preparedness for safety on the water.

Sheriff Rich Stanek said that there are three key points to remember: Watch, wear and learn.
Those enjoying the water should watch where they are at all times.

“Especially keep an eye on young ones,” Stanek said. “It’s important to be aware of what’s around you and where everyone is at all times.”

Like in past years, the sheriff’s office is hitting the “wear” portion of their key tips hard this year.

“No matter what level swimmer you are, wear a life jacket,” Stanek said. “I’m 55 years old and I wear a life jacket when I go swimming.”

Stanek said that having a flotation device isn’t “always those giant orange things around your neck.” There are a variety of person flotation devices available for use.

According to Minnesota law, all children younger than the age of 10 are required to have a life jacket on at all times while on a watercraft. Minnesota law also requires boats to have a size-appropriate life jacket for each person onboard.

Life jackets are a big thing deputies check for when stopping boats on the water. However, sheriffs will also check to make sure boaters are registered, have a fire extinguisher and have a carbon monoxide detector if required under the new Sophia’s Law.

Stanek encourages all those using Minnesota waterways to learn about boating safety and swimming safety.

“Minnesotans love the water,” Stanek said. “Everyone should be taught how to swim.”

Stanek also said that it’s important to designate a safe boating operator if alcohol is part of a person’s plans on the water.

“Make sure whoever’s driving isn’t the one drinking,” Stanek said.

Lastly, Stanek urges those chomping at the bit to get out on the water to “pay attention to the weather.”

“Just because you see blue skies, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to stay that way,” he said.
Most importantly, the sheriff’s office wants people to get out there and enjoy Minnesota waterways.
“We don’t want to restrict their fun,” Stanek said. “We just want them to be safe while having fun.”

More information on water and boating safety can be found at hennepinsheriff.org.