Local teacher saves injured boater

There is a lucky young man from Ranier, Mn. who might not be alive today if it weren’t for the timely actions of Kevin Knutsen.
Back on June 12, Knutsen, a Grade 8 teacher at St. Francis School here, was boating near Sha-Sha’s Resort with two friends when they noticed something peculiar and decided to check it out.
“We noticed a boat sort of spinning in circles at the back side of Sha-Sha’s,” Knutsen recalled.
Having enough boating experience to realize someone might have fallen out, Knutsen, Mark LaFleur, and Marla Simpson moved in closer and discovered there was indeed someone in the water.
What they didn’t yet realize was how seriously the person was hurt.
“We could see a person trying to swim to the dock [a distance of about 30 yards] so we jumped onto the back of our boat and tried to pull him up,” Knutsen said.
It was only then they noticed the severity of his injuries.
There was considerable bleeding, and when Knutsen pulled up the man’s shirt, he discovered a deep gash on the side of his abdomen that had penetrated all the muscle and fat—exposing the underlying viscera.
“It [the cut] was about as wide open as it could get, so we sent Marla to call 9-1-1 and get a blanket while I applied pressure to the wound. It was a pretty scary situation,” Knutsen said.
Fortunately, Knutsen, who is trained in first aid, was able to keep the man calm and stabilized until help arrived.
The first emergency responder to arrive on the scene was Deputy Chuck Saari of the Koochiching County Sheriff’s Office.
By that time, Knutsen and his friends had moved away, so Saari never actually saw who had made the rescue, but from talking to the man, who was still conscious, he was able to reconstruct what had happened.
“The kid was trying to bail out some water from his boat when a big wave hit him, he flew up, and landed in the water,” recalled Saari. “Then the boat ran over him.
“Somebody fished him out, but by the time we got there, he was sitting on the dock already and the guy [Knutsen] was gone.”
Saari described the injuries as “a deep cut on his back and side. He was very lucky.”
Knutsen said the young man was lucky in other ways. The unseasonably cold water probably stemmed the bleeding and blocked some of the pain.
However, he appeared to be in shock and probably would not have survived long in the water without Knutsen’s timely arrival.
“The main thing was the cold water allowed him to get to us,” Knutsen noted.
Knutsen later tried to follow up on the man’s condition, but hospital authorities in International Falls refused to release any information.
“So I contacted a friend at the OPP, who contacted the sheriff,” Knutsen remarked. “They said he’ll be OK.”
The man’s name was not released, but he reportedly was released from hospital the next day and is expected to make a full recovery.