Man who nearly drowned in Big Swan Lake thanks stranger who saved him

This man was caught too far from shore on a windy night, but was saved by a neighbor in a rowboat.

A man who lives on the lake near Dassel, Minnesota is thanking the stranger who saved him when he nearly drowned Monday while swimming after his pontoon.

On Monday, Tom Stodola was taking his pontoon out of Big Swan Lake for the season. He said he beached the pontoon about 30 feet from shore, and he was getting ready to back his trailer into the water when the pontoon broke loose.

“He said, 'I’m going in the lake,' and I said, 'no you can’t to that it’s too cold,'” Tom’s wife Christie said. She was watching from shore as Tom swam out after the boat.

He said he made it about 100 yards before realizing the boat was too far away and moving too fast to get to.

“Needless to say, the wind was blowing faster than I could swim so I went out a little farther and kept trying a little more ,and next thing I knew I was too far out from shore,” Tom said.

He said he started getting tired. The water was cold and his body was cramping. Christie said she saw him go under the water twice. From shore she frantically called 911 for help.

“Next thing I look out my right eye and here comes a guy in a paddle boat waving at me and I thought well, I’m dreaming the thing, but all of a sudden here he comes,” Tom said.

Big Swan Lake was the scene of a near drowning Monday. (FOX 9)

The Meeker County Sheriff’s Office later told the Stodola’s that a boy who lived nearby saw Tom struggling in the lake. He called for his dad who grabbed their boat and rushed out to bring Tom to safety.

Tom said he was too weak to climb into the boat, so he held on as the man paddled to shore. Once there, an ambulance was waiting to take him to the hospital where he said he found out his body temperature had cooled down to around 80 degrees.

Now the Stodola’s are thanking the man for acting quickly and saving his life.

“I just want to thank him for all he did and for his son seeing that and for him coming out,” Tom said.

“We want to say a sincere thank you to them, otherwise Tom wouldn’t be here today,” Christie said.

The Meeker County Sheriff’s Office told the Stodola’s the man who saved Tom does not want to be identified. The sheriff’s office told them he said he “was just doing the right thing.”

“I don’t know where he come from, I think the good old lord was looking out for me,” Tom said.