The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 31, 2012

Rescuer recounts Lake Elysian tragedy

WATERVILLE — Days after doing his part to prevent even further tragedy on Lake Elysian, Chris Holthus remains conflicted.

The 27-year-old Janesville resident said he wishes he could have done more, but by the same token...

“I’m just glad I was on the lake that day to help. I feel sorry for the family that lost a kid — and happy I was able to help the other ones.”

Brady Hruska, 17, of Waterville, drowned after the duck-hunting boat he was in with four high school-age friends capsized in the frigid water.

Holthus on Wednesday recounted the events.

He said he and brother Dan were preparing to hunt ducks in the pitch black pre-dawn Saturday when they heard yelling from the other side of the lake.

Chris Holthus got into his boat and went toward the sounds. As he neared, so did another man in a boat who had heard the cries for help. Holthus said by the time they rounded into a bay where the yelling had come from, the sounds had stopped.

Moments later they came upon an overturned 12-foot flat-bottom boat. Holthus said two youths were clinging to it and two others appeared to be trying to swim to shore a few hundred yards away.

At that point, Holthus estimates they’d been in the water 25 minutes. Holthus moved to help the two clutching their boat while the other rescuer — Holthus didn’t get his name — went to the aid of the two others.

“I asked if they had everyone and they said no, so we started yelling for Brady,” Holthus said.

He said the youths told him Hruska had tried to use a decoy and a cooler as flotation devices before he went under the water.

Holthus said he had to struggle to pull the two teens into his boat, then struggled further to reposition them in the watercraft because the cold had severely hampered their mobility.

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