A 500 pound man stuck after a tubing accident was rescued from St. Croix River in western Wisconsin. Martin Rike developed symptoms of heart attack when in the river and he was rescued by dozens of rescue workers who spent hours carrying him to a navigable part of the waterway.
Martin Rike, 39, of Pine City, Minnesota, was part of a group who were rafting down the river. They were floating down the river on the Minnesota border in inner tubes Monday afternoon when Rike's hit a rock and deflated. While he was trying to get out of the water and walk along the shore, he apparently suffered chest pains and a possible heart attack and fell into the river.
Rike's group called police to report that he was having chest pains. A paramedic who arrived by helicopter stabilized Rike, but the pilot could not take him to a hospital, saying he was too heavy.
The river conditions and the man's weight complicated the effort to get him out.
As many as 50 rescuers on the ground responded, with the first reaching Rike about 9 p.m. Crews tried to get to Rike with boats and canoes, but the watercraft ran aground in shallow water.
Rescuers tried loading him into an aluminum boat, hoping to carry him over the rocky ground. But he was so heavy that they could move the makeshift stretcher only several feet downstream per hoist.
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," said Chief Deputy Steve Ovick of the Pine County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota. "They still had to drag those canoes all that way."
It was a 12 hour ordeal before they could move him to the ambulance. He was taken to the Burnett Medical Center in Grantsburg on Tuesday morning where he was treated for chest pain. He was discharged by afternoon.
This was rike's first tubing trip. He said he appreciated everything done to rescue him. "Without those people, I would still be out there,"
Even though Rike weighs 500 pounds, the truck driver is "really pretty healthy," his mother said.