PILLAGER -- It only took seconds, but it seemed to play out in slow motion.
Pillager High School seniors Tuesday morning began walking on what was described as a wobbly dock, one by one.
The weight was just too much. Cracking, screeching sounds were heard and the students began to wonder. But no one moved.
In seconds it was all over.
The dock could not take the weight and the students fell into Gull Lake.
It was an experience the estimated 70 Pillager High School seniors -- wet or dry -- will never forget.
The seniors piled on a dock at Ernie's on Gull Lake to have their senior group picture taken for the yearbook. Mike Aulie, of Sother's Studio, was taking the photograph that the students would remember for years.
Lacey Olson, a Pillager senior, said the students were bused to Ernie's for the picture. The shorter students -- Olson, who is 5 feet 2 inches tall, included -- sat down on the dock. The taller students were to file in behind.
As more and more students walked onto the dock, the students began to hear a cracking sound.
"Students kept walking out there and we were like, 'This is going to go,' and the people just kept coming on," said Olson. "No one was going to listen to us anyway (if they told them the dock would break). They piled on and some began to rock it and then we went down. One of my friends went under. I was wet up to my shoulders."
Olson said the students who sat on the dock, mostly girls, were wet up to their shoulders.
"We were just laughing," she said. "This is something we can remember."
Olson said the bus ride back to the school smelled like seaweed.
Kyle Richmond, a senior, was wet to his waist. He said students could hear the cracking of the dock while more and more students got on it. He said he could tell it was ready to break.
He said the dock broke before all the students got on. About half of the students were on the shore waiting to get on.
Senior Nate Schnaufer said he was one of the students who began to rock the dock to help make it break.
"You could hear the cracking and I knew it was going to go so I started to rock it," he said. "People were going to get wet."
Melissa Mueller, a senior, said she could tell there was too much weight on the dock.
"All you could hear was the cracking of the dock," she said. "I was totally shocked (that it actually did break). Some girls didn't get up in time and went under."
Senior Whitney Hoheisel said when she walked on the dock it was wobbling back and forth. She said she then heard the cracks and the screeching of the dock and then everyone got wet.
Dan Boushee, Pillager athletic director who was supervising the students, said it all happened in slow motion. He said the dock was slowly breaking and a few students jumped off the dock before the final crack.
"There were two students who were perched like a bird on the post after the dock broke and were forced to jump in the water," he said. "As soon as I found out there were no injuries, I laughed."
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