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Boreal Community Media

Former Minnesota teacher, coach dies in Boundary Waters after canoe capsizes

Jul 12, 2018 07:29AM ● By Editor

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press on July 11, 2018 

ELY, Minn.—A former Minneapolis high school football and wrestling coach died in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness after he attempted to right a capsized canoe.

Niles R. Schulz, 75, of Minneapolis was found dead Tuesday evening, July 10, in Sawbill Lake near the portage to Kelso Lake, according to the Cook County sheriff's office. Schulz was on a trip with his grandson, a friend and the friend's grandson, officials say.

Schulz was the head wrestling and football coach from the late 1960s into the 1980s for Edison High School, where he also taught English for nearly two decades. He was a board member of the Edison Community and Sports Foundation.

Members of Schulz's group say he went under the water as he attempted to right a tipped-over canoe, according to authorities. After unsuccessfully searching the water for him, one member of his party left to call 911 from the nearby Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, authorities say.

The Cook County sheriff's office and Cook County Search and Rescue responded and recovered Schulz from the water around 5:30 p.m. He was transferred to North Shore Health Hospital in Grand Marais.

Officials said Schulz was not wearing a life jacket.

"The outcome of today's search was heartbreaking," Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen said in a statement. "Our condolences are with the victim's family and other members of his party."

The death is the second of the summer in the BWCA. A 31-year-old man from Coon Rapids died in June after his canoe capsized.

Editor's Note:  This is the second drowning fatality in the BWCAW that Cook County First Responders have witnessed this season.  Both vicitims were not wearing life jackets.  The MN DNR highly recommends all canoers wear life jackets at all times when on the water - no matter what age or swimming ability.  To learn more, follow this link to a paddling safety tips article on the Boreal Emergency Preparedness Portal.

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