BWCA search for missing canoers continues as weather improves

Gov. Walz has authorized the Minnesota National Guard to help search for two canoers that have been missing in the BWCA for nearly a week now. (FOX 9)

An influx of resources from state and local authorities along with improving weather is contributing to the search for two missing canoeists in the Boundary Water Canoe Area (BWCA), according to an update from the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office.

The Minnesota National Guard was ordered to assist in the search on Thursday and joined the Ely Fire Department, Eli Police Department, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, United States Forest Service, Minnesota Air Rescue Team, Virginia Fire, North Air Care and Anderson Canoe Outfitters. 

The improving weather has also allowed personnel and equipment to be transported by air and water into the area in order to assist in the search, the sheriff's office said.

The missing canoeists were identified on Monday as Reis Grams, 40, of Ham Lake and Jesse Haugen, 41, of Cambridge, as two of the men who were swept away after two canoes went over Curtain Falls in the BWCA on Saturday night. 

Three other men who were part of the group have already been rescued. Kyle Sellers, 47, of Ham Lake was rushed to a hospital for treatment. Erik Grams, 43, of Ham Lake and Jared Lohse, 33, of Cambridge were also flown out of the wilderness area.

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Officials say they are utilizing boats such as zodiacs and canoes along with sonar, remote-operated vehicles, (ROVs) drones, and dogs that were able to reach the area. The search is expected to continue throughout the weekend and with the majority involving shoreline, water and ROV searches.  

The sheriff's office said that search efforts will be hampered by a rise in water levels and the current. There is also an expected weather cell moving through the area that crews say they will work through. 

There are currently more than a dozen crew members on the ground in the area supported by several others in air operations and command posts, according to the sheriff's office.