Two men rescued on Lake Altoona after boat capsizes

Published: Apr. 16, 2017 at 2:16 PM CDT
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Two men are safe after being rescued on a local lake after the boat they were in capsized Sunday afternoon.

According to the Altoona Police Department, Johnny Lowe, 31, and Frank Scholl, 32, were pulled from Lake Altoona just before 1 P.M. Sunday.

“Originally, when we first got here we could only see one life jacket on a gentleman and he was trying to wave his arms around out there,” said Pamela Nelson who was at the beach when the boat went under. “But the swells, at first we couldn't even see the lifejacket on the second guy.”

It started as a day of fishing on Lake Altoona, but high winds and choppy waters made for a different story for two men boating on the lake.

Scott Thiede, a Wisconsin DNR Conservation Warden, says he was on his routine patrol at the lake when concern overwhelmed him as he watched the only boat in the water, take a dive.

“I saw one boat on the water, and given the rough conditions and the shallow draft of this bass boat, I was concerned, so I watched them,” Thiede said. “Shortly they turned into a position on the lake where the wind came up behind them and apparently filled their boat with water. The boat went down fast; they put on their lifejackets fast, and it’s because of those lifejackets they're alive.”

Nelson said she was only at the beach with her family, attempting to fly kites in this strong wind, when she heard the sirens pass by and saw two life jackets in the water.

“We got here and a firetruck passed us, or a truck passed us with its lights on, and then we noticed two orange life jackets in the middle of the lake and no boat anywhere around and they were quite a way out in the water,” Nelson said.

Thiede says while the grass is green and the sun is shining, the water is still cold. The water temperature on Lake Altoona is around 50 degrees, which he says would have been a major concern for hypothermia if the men had been out there any longer.

Thiede says the men were in the water for around 20 minutes.

“I was telling the kids we can’t go swimming because they thought we were going to go swimming. It’s too cold, too much hypothermia can set in,” Nelson added. “You could tell one of the guys was really hurting when he got out of the water, he could hardly walk, so at least the boats got here quickly and got them out.”

Thiede says the men had recently bought their bass boat and now with the boat underwater, they have 30 days according to state law to remove it from the lake

Lowe was taken to the hospital and his condition is unknown. Scholl refused treatment but met Lowe at the hospital.

Officials say if the men hadn't been wearing life jackets, the day’s outcome may have been different.

Thiede reminds everyone heading out on the waters this season to remember the basics of boating safety, be aware of the conditions, be familiar with your boat and always have life jackets readily available.

Sunday afternoon emergency services rescued two men in Lake Altoona after their boat capsized.

A Wisconsin DNR spokesman says the two were fishing when waves overcame their boat. He says the two put on their life jackets as the boat started to sink, and says that action saved their lives.

The two were rescued by Township Fire Special Rescue.

We will have more details when they became available.