MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Family members were asking for prayers Sunday for an 8-year-old boy who remained hospitalized after a sailboat accident that claimed the lives of his two brothers.
Isaiah Risland, his two brothers and their father were sailing Friday on Clearwater Lake in northern Minnesota when their boat capsized, throwing them into the frigid water, the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office said.
All three boys were wearing lifejackets and their father, Dan Risland, swam for help. But The Bemidji Pioneer reports authorities arrived to find all the boys unresponsive.
Two-year-old Jacob and 6-year-old Zech died of hypothermia, the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office said.
"They were able to bring the oldest one back," Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp told the Pioneer. "It's kind of a miracle the oldest one survived . They had no signs of life."
Isaiah was airlifted Friday to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis. Hospital spokesman Justin Theodotou told The Associated Press the family did not give him permission to release information about Isaiah's condition Sunday, but the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office said Saturday that he was in critical condition.
Gadget Soule, Risland's sister-in-law, told the Star Tribune she watched the boys leave to go sailing, and they were thrilled to take their new sailboat out for the first time.
"They were all excited to go out and sail with Daddy," she said. "They lived for him, and he lived for them."
Residents in the small town of Leonard, where Risland has been mayor for several years, were shaken by the tragedy. The town has a population of about 40 people.
"It's devastating for us as a school and as a community," said Kristil McDonald, principal at Clearbrook-Gonvick Schools, where the two older boys were enrolled. "Everyone knows everyone. We'll all be grieving and dealing with the situation."
The Star Tribune reported Risland was an avid outdoorsman and had bought the sailboat just last week.
Clearwater County Sheriff Mike Erickson said the family was sailing Friday afternoon when strong winds tipped the boat over. Risland tried to reach his boys, but was struggling in wind and waves and was feeling effects of hypothermia.
"He told the oldest one to watch his brothers," Erickson told the Star Tribune, "and he swam to shore to get help."
The boys had been in 40-degree water for about an hour by the time authorities arrived, Erickson said.
Risland's sister, Rosie Miles, said the brothers were rambunctious young boys, who couldn't sit still unless they were watching "Veggie Tales" or playing outside with their dad. She said the family is devastated.
"It was Easter weekend; he wanted to take his kids out on his new boat," Miles said. "He told me, 'I love my boys.' "
A fund has been set up to help the family. Donations can be sent to the Dan Risland fund, Country Faith Church, P.O. Box 41, Clearbrook, MN 56634.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.