Lake Superior boater rescued from island near Grand Portage
WTIP file photo

Lake Superior boater rescued from island near Grand Portage

A Minnesota man was rescued Tuesday night from one of the Susie Islands on Lake Superior near Grand Portage after his boat caught fire.

Officials from the Cook County Sheriff’s Department confirmed with WTIP that no injuries were involved with the situation.

According to the sheriff’s department, Chris Crutcher, from Breezy Point, Minn., was on board a boat near the Canada-U.S. border when a small fire broke out on board the watercraft. Crutcher, 41, was able to take the boat to Magnet Island, one of the Susie Islands near Grand Portage. Officials from the Cook County Sheriff’s Department told WTIP Tuesday night the distress call from the boat that caught fire initially came through the Canadian emergency line at approximately 6:40 p.m. The fire on board was burning slowly enough that Crutcher could drive to the islands.

Once Crutcher was able to reach land, they were rescued from the island chain by tribal and border officials. Grand Portage Warden Bob Vogel was waiting at the Grand Portage Marina with a boat, needing another person to accompany him to the scene. US Customs Agent Gary Radloff responded to the scene to assist Vogel. Radloff has extensive experience on watercraft and knows Lake Superior well as he charters boats on the Big Lake, according to local law enforcement officials.

Crutcher, a hockey-rink manager from northern Minnesota, is an experienced boat captain and was traveling alone when the fire broke out. He was attempting to get one last boat trip in to Isle Royale before the end of the season, the sheriff’s office reports.

WTIP spoke with Crutcher Wednesday morning about the incident. Speaking from a hotel room in Cook County, Crutcher said the fire started due to an electrical issue.

“It happened so fast,” he said.

Crutcher was coming back from a day of fishing at Isle Royale when the fire broke out near the Susie Islands. His boat, a 2023 triple-hull pontoon, is a total loss, Crutcher said. The boat was able to be towed back to the Grand Portage Marina late Tuesday night.

Crutcher praised the efforts of Vogel and others involved with the rescue operation on the Lake Superior islands.

The Susie Islands are a 13-island archipelago chain located approximately 1/4 mile from the mainland and Grand Portage. The archipelago is located entirely within the Grand Portage Reservation on Lake Superior.