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Prescott pair rescue Twin Cities man from Lake St. Croix

PRESCOTT --- It started out like an average Saturday morning for Jim and Carol Toner.

The Prescott residents were sitting in their living room at 517 Lake St. around 8:15 a.m. Dec. 2, reading the paper, when the unusual occurred.

"I heard this loud roar like I never heard before," Jim recalled. "I looked out and I saw this fishing boat going around in circles and no one in it, and I thought oh, boy."

Jim then raced down to the dock, calling 911 and the ambulance.

"I knew we had to get him out of there as soon as possible," Jim added.

The him Jim was referring to was Daniel G. Ryks, 41, South St. Paul, Minn., who was alone in his 16-foot fishing boat when his boat collided with an unknown object in the lake, approximately 200 meters from shore.

The incident also caught the attention of Frank and Denise Farr, who live down the road at 603 Lake St. Frank and Denise were watching the geese fly and, as a matter of fact, Denise saw him fall out of the boat.

"She yelled at me, saying the guy fell out of the back of the boat," Frank said. The Farrs quickly left for the Toners because Frank knew the accident occurred right outside the Toners' window.

When Jim got down to the dock, he found Ryks trying to swim back to the boat, while it was still going in circles.

"The boat was too dangerous when it's going in circles," he said.

As Jim was convincing him to swim toward shore, the Farrs arrived. Ryks started swimming toward shore, sans lifeguard and with three layers of clothing on.

"No question, if he didn't learn how to swim, he would have died," Jim said.

Ryks swam half the distance when he started to tire out.

"I didn't know how long he's going to make it," Jim said, especially when Ryks was yelling to help him. "I was amazed he went that far."

That's when Jim went in and, with the water up to his neck, started to help him. Once the two got even closer, Frank came in and assisted the two.

"It was all on adrenaline or instinct," Frank said. "We had no time to stop and think."

During that entire process, Jim was yelling at Ryks to stay awake as he was in the lake for about nine minutes as temperatures were around 14 degrees that day.

"We're more worried about hypothermia and shock," he said. "I can't imagine how cold he could have been."

The pair got him into Jim's house and, by that time, the police had arrived. They put him in the squad car equipped with blankets Denise brought to keep him warm.

The ambulance arrived soon after to transport Ryks to Regina Medical Center in Hastings, Minn. He was treated for hyperthermia and released.

In any situation like this, Frank and Jim admitted luck was on their side.

"If he had been further out, I don't think we could have gotten to him," Frank said.

Prescott Police Officer Gary Krutke, who was the officer on scene, said in a news release, "Had it not been for the heroic efforts of the three neighbors that assisted in getting Mr. Ryks out of the water, Mr. Ryks would have drowned. It is my opinion that Mr. Toner and Mr. and Mrs. Farr be publicly recognized by the City of Prescott for their selfless act of putting themselves in a life-threatening situation to save the life of Mr. Ryks."

Krutke's boss, Police Chief Mike Bondarenko, and Fire and EMS Chief Bill Dravis are trying to make that happen. They are planning to nominate them for a lifesaving award through the office of Gov. Doyle.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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