Minnesota teen drowns after pulling siblings, cousins from rain-swollen lake

Minnesota teen drowns after pulling siblings, cousins from rain-swollen lake
Clearwater Dam in Sinclair Township in northwestern Minnesota. (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)

CLEARWATER COUNTY, Minn. — An 18-year-old woman drowned Monday after reportedly pulling multiple children from choppy waters near a northwestern Minnesota dam, authorities confirmed.

The Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office said Raina Lynn Neeland, 18, of Bagley lost her life around 3:45 p.m. in Clearwater Lake, WCCO reported.

The seven children involved were all Neeland’s siblings and cousins, the Minnesota Star Tribune reported.

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According to the Sheriff’s Office, water from Clearwater Lake flows over the 14-foot-high dam into a river with the same name. The children were going over the off-limits dam and into the river but became trapped in the treacherous water.

“They use it as a big waterslide,” Clearwater County Sheriff Darin Halverson told the Star Tribune Tuesday. “Kids like to do that. ... They use tubes or whatever. Lots of times they go over on their own.”

One of the children, an 8-year-old girl, was initially unresponsive after being pulled from the water, but bystanders were able to resuscitate her. The youngest child rescued was 6.

According to witnesses, Neeland remained submerged for about 10 minutes, and neither bystanders nor paramedics were able to resuscitate her, WCCO reported.

“We probably would have had multiple fatalities. The water is just churning under the dam. ... She did her part and saved who she could,” Halverson told the Star Tribune.

The water level at the dam, which is owned by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, was considerably higher due to the large amount of recent rain, the newspaper reported.