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500 lb MN man straned on WI river after tube deflates

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500-pound man rescued after 12-hour ordeal on St. Croix River



Associated Press Writer



MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Emergency workers labored through the night to rescue an ailing 500-pound man who was stranded on a stretch of the St. Croix River so shallow that rescue vehicles - including a hovercraft - were unable to approach.


Martin Rike, 39, of Pine City, Minn., was treated for chest pain at the Burnett Medical Center in Grantsburg on Tuesday morning and discharged that afternoon, his mother said.


Rike and three friends were floating down the river on the Minnesota border in northwestern Wisconsin when Rike's tube hit a rock and deflated Monday afternoon, said Chief Deputy Steve Ovick of the Pine County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota.


Rike, contacted by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis at his home Tuesday night, said he went on his first tubing trip because of his doctor's suggestion to take up a fun but safe activity, but "the farther we went on the St. Croix River, the worse the conditions got."


He said he appreciated everything done to rescue him.


"Without those people, I would still be out there," he said.


Ovick had said Tuesday morning that Rike was rafting alone, but after speaking with more rescuers, he gave the following account:


Rike's group called 911 shortly after 8 p.m. to report that he was ill. A paramedic who arrived by helicopter stabilized Rike, but the pilot couldn't take him to a hospital.


"The aircraft that found him said they could not lift that amount of weight," Ovick said.


As many as 50 rescuers on the ground eventually responded, with the first reaching Rike about 9 p.m.


Crews tried to get to Rike with boats and canoes, but the watercraft ran into the ground in spots where the water was only ankle deep. Even a hovercraft couldn't get close to Rike.


Rescuers tried loading him into an aluminum boat, hoping to carry him over the rocky ground. But he was so heavy they could move the makeshift stretcher only several feet downstream per hoist. Eventually, they tired and abandoned the effort.


Finally, rescuers created a floating platform by lashing three canoes together and placing four boards across them.


"That remedy worked much better, but it was still a lot of work," Ovick said. "They still had to drag those canoes all that way."


Rescuers finally got Rike to the ambulance about 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, more than 12 hours after the 911 call.


Rike wasn't in pain during the ordeal, said his mother, Sharon Rike.


"He got really cold because he was in wet clothes all night from being in the river," she said. "(Tuesday) morning, he was tired and hungry, but he was joking and trying to get warm."


Rike bruised at least one leg but was able to walk from shore to the canoes, Sharon Rike said. Rescuers had limited his movement because he had symptoms of a heart attack, she said.


Even though Rike weighs 500 pounds, the truck driver is "really pretty healthy," his mother said.

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You should change your screen name to Ihatethefatman.


Total self-loather.

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