A pair of paddlers were rescued by the Minnesota State Patrol and National Guard last week after an ordeal near Oyster Lake in the Boundary Waters. Chuck Kelly, 66, of Brooklyn Park and Pamela Scaia, 65, of New Hope were airlifted out when they signaled search aircraft with a flashlight.
Kelly and Scaia said they are experienced wilderness travelers and were prepared for a nine-day trip — but pushed themselves too hard. They missed a portage on their way out of the wilderness, and ended up deep in swamp, thinking they could find another route to safety. They ended up subsisting on a single packet of oatmeal each day while awaiting rescue.
“It was a phenomenal search — one of the best I’ve been on,” said Rick Slatten, captain of the St. Louis County Rescue Squad, told the Duluth News Tribune. “They were in life-threatening conditions, running out of food.”
The pair were due out of the wilderness on Monday, May 29. Coworkers and family members contacted authorities after they did not return. The search began Thursday, and the pair were located late Friday night. A Blackhawk helicopter from the 133rd Airlift Wing in Duluth brought them to safety.
Both individuals were transported to Ely Hospital as precautions, but neither were injured.
The search covered air, land and water and, in addition to the Rescue Squad, State Patrol and National Guard, the search involved the U.S. Forest Service and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Watch an interview with Kelly and Scaia below, courtesy KARE 11 News: