BREVIK, Minn. (FOX 9) - A mother and son struggled for hours to get to safety after their boat capsized on Leech Lake in Cass County.
Wednesday, the mother recounted the pair's harrowing tale that was supposed to be a short canoe trip during a family vacation at a resort on Leech Lake. It turned into a near-death experience for Melanie Carlson and her son.
"I just kept thinking, 'how did we get into this situation? What can we do?' It was so helpless," she said.
Carlson said the two paddled along the shoreline for a couple of hours before strong winds capsized their boat near an island about a mile from their resort. Carlson said they were both wearing their life jackets and were able to get back in the canoe, but it was still full of water and they worried any movement would capsize them again.
"I said this is how I'm going to die," Carlson said. "I'm going to drown. We're both going to die."
The waterlogged mother and son floated for the next three hours then paddled for five more toward the nearest piece of land they could see. They ended up on a rocky island ten miles from where they started. That's where members of the Minnesota Aviation Rescue Team spotted them, a full 10 hours after their ordeal began.
"It was such a relief," she said. "I just laid on my back in the grass and started crying because I'm like 'we're rescued. We are going to get back.'"
Carlson said this was the first time her son had ever been in a canoe and after what they went through, it will probably be her last.
"We could easily be both be gone right now and planning our funerals so I'm just so grateful so grateful it worked out," Carlson said.