2 People Missing, 2 Others Injured After Canoeing Over Minnesota Waterfall

Two canoes were reported to have gone over Curtain Falls, resulting in multiple individuals being seriously injured and others going missing

<p>St Louis County Rescue Squad/Facebook</p> Image of Minnesota Curtain Falls

St Louis County Rescue Squad/Facebook

Image of Minnesota Curtain Falls

Two people have been reported missing after canoeing in northern Minnesota over the weekend.

On Sunday, May 19, officers received an alert of a “water emergency” on Iron Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area on Saturday,  May 18,  at around 7:21 p.m. local time, according to a press release from the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, which was provided to PEOPLE.

Two canoes were reported to have gone over Curtain Falls, resulting in one "party" being seriously injured and two people missing.

“On May 18, 2024, at approximately 7:21 PM, the St. Louis Co Sheriff's Office was dispatched to a report of a water emergency on Iron Lake in the BWCA,” the press release read. “The caller reported 2 canoes had gone over Curtain Falls during the incident, one party was badly injured and two individuals were missing.”

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Per the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office's statement, a DNR helicopter was used at around 12:30 am to rescue “one of the injured individuals and another uninjured party.” The injured was then taken to Essentia Duluth with non-life-threatening, but serious injuries.

“On May 19, 2024, search efforts resumed and were led by the St. Louis Co. Rescue Squad,” the release continued, “An individual who was with the group, not involved in the incident, was flown out of the wilderness. The St. Louis Co. Rescue Squad is continuing to search for the 2 missing individuals.”

The two missing canoeists have been identified as 41-year-old Jesse Melvin Haugen and Reis Melvin Grams, 40.

47-year-old Kyle Thomas Sellers was also named as an injured canoeist, while the involved canoeist was identified as Erik Michael Grams, 43, and a group member was identified as Jared Lay Lohse.

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The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office and Rescue Squad have continued their search efforts with the assistance of North Air Care, Virginia Fire, MN DNR helicopter, MART, Minnesota Air Rescue Team and U.S. Forest Service.

“ROV (remote operated vehicles) and Drones will be utilized to search the area for the missing canoeists,” the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office's release noted.  “Rapid water conditions are making for difficult searching conditions, however crews on the group continue to push forward to continue the search area and expand it as needed. The following are the involved parties including the names of the two missing canoeists.”

In a statement to PEOPLE, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area organization noted, "Generally, the BWCA is a remote wilderness area, and groups should be prepared for risk and adverse conditions. Good practices are to always wear a pfd (life jacket) and be warned that the water is cold and hypothermia can set in quickly, particularly in the spring."

The organization's statement continued, "Visitors should avoid or be wary of traveling through and near moving water. It is common for wind to pick up in the afternoon making travel over large lakes challenging. When in doubt of conditions and the group's capabilities, stay put and don't risk travel to meet a timeline. Plan ahead by researching and discussing trip plans with other experienced travelers."

The St Louis County Rescue Squad also released a statement on the incident in a Facebook post on Sunday, May 19.

“Two canoes carrying four individuals went over the falls,” their statement read.  “Despite many challenges and setbacks, we successfully evacuated two injured patients late last night, as well as a third uninjured person in their party from a campsite early this morning.  Two paddlers are still missing.”

The rescue team added that members slept on the ground to resume search efforts in the morning more easily.

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