Boating accident results in death of tribal community member


The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe community is mourning the loss of a tribal community member due to a fatal boating accident that occurred on Wednesday evening on Mille Lacs Lake.

“This is a tragic event for our community,” said Mille Lacs Band Commissioner of Natural Resources Katie Draper. “Our hearts are heavy. This is a time for our communities to come together and be respectful to those who are grieving.”

At approximately 7:07 p.m. Mille Lacs Tribal Police received a report of a capsized boat off Iskigamizigan landing (pow wow grounds) on Shaw Bosh Kung Drive with two people hanging onto the boat and two people afloat in the water. Tribal Police responded to the scene and requested an ambulance, Garrison Fire Department, and a rescue boat from state or tribal conservation officers.

The capsized boat belonged to John Holmquist, 35, of Garrison, who was setting nets with three others when the boat took on water and became partially submerged approximately 200 yards offshore.

With no rescue boat available, Band members Curt Kalk and Luther Sam launched a privately owned boat to assist with search and rescue. Kalk and Sam found three of the boaters and brought them to the landing where they were taken by ambulance to Mille Lacs Health System in Onamia.

After continued searching, Kalk and Sam later found Holmquist who was not responsive or breathing. At the landing tribal police and tribal community members began CPR on Holmquist until EMS arrived and took over care. Holmquist was transported to Mille Lacs Health System in Onamia where he was later pronounced dead.

Mille Lacs Band Tribal Police, Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office, Mille Lacs Health System Emergency Services and Cuyuna Regional Medical Center Ambulance services responded to the scene.