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Kayaker pinned to tree forces temporary shut down of Crosslake dam

Web posted June 24, 2014
By Kate Perkins, Northland Press Correspondent

A kayaker who was pinned to a tree forced the temporary shutdown of the Crosslake Dam Tuesday, June 17.

The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department reports that the kayaker, 53-year-old Ann Weissman of New Jersey, had overturned just downstream from the dam and was pinned to a tree due to the extremely strong current. Rescuers were unable to free Weissman because of the strong current, so the dam was temporarily shut down. The water level then subsided, freeing Weissman.

After she was pulled from the water, Weissman was checked over by medical personnel but was not transported to the hospital as she was uninjured. She was wearing her helmet and life jacket.

Sheriff Todd Dahl reminds the community that with the heavy rainfall Crow Wing County and surrounding areas have received, water levels are very high and streams and rivers have very strong currents. Boaters are reminded to wear life jackets.

Corrine Hodapp, of the Crosslake Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) that controls the dam, said the dam was flowing at 1,800 cubic feet per second (CFS) when the kayaker became pinned.

“One cubic foot is about the size of a basketball,” Hodapp said, to provide a visual for the amount of water flowing out of the dam. “Imagine 1,800 basketballs going by in a second,” and that’s how much water was flowing from the dam.

The dam was shut down to about 600 cubic feet per second to release the kayaker, and was opened again once everyone had cleared the water about 20 minutes later. The lake level on the Whitefish Chain jumped 4/100s of an inch in that time, Hodapp said. According to online data from the ACOE, the dam was flowing at just over 1,700 CFS on Friday, June 20.

Hodapp said the ACOE’s policy is to close the kayak launch at the recreation area once the flow level from the dam reaches 2,000 CFS, however, that policy is being reconsidered after the June 17 incident.

“The water is high, and it looks attractive and fun but it’s not safe,” Hodapp said. She advised that people stay off the river until the flow can be reduced.

The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Water Patrol, Crosslake Fire Department, Crosslake Police Department and Army Corps of Engineers responded to the incident.

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