Line 3 worker rescued from submerged equipment in subzero temps in northwest Minnesota

According to the Hubbard County Sheriff, logging equipment went through ice in a swampy area of Lake Hattie Township.


HUBBARD COUNTY, Minn. -- Logging equipment fell through the ice at a Line 3 pipeline worksite south of Bemidji, Minn., on Saturday, trapping the operator inside the submerged machine, officials said.

As Hubbard County Sheriff's Office deputies and medical personnel responded to the rural site in Lake Hattie Township just before 2 p.m., additional information came into dispatch that the cab had filled with water and other Line 3 replacement workers were attempting to rescue the victim.

The workers were able to pull Roy Davis of Barnwell, South Carolina, 45, out of the cab as deputies arrived, the release said. Enbridge Energy spokesperson Juli Kellner confirmed the incident, which occurred at 1:56 p.m. Feb. 6. Lake Hattie Township is about 23 miles south of Bemidji.

According to the sheriff's office, Davis was logging in the area when his John Deere Feller Buncher broke through a frozen area on the edge of the swamp. “The tracked machine then tipped over and became completely submerged in the water. The operator was unable to exit out of the machine’s door or window due to mud and ice. Another worker on scene used an excavator and was able to quickly dig around the machine, freeing the victim and then removed him out of the water,” the release said.


Davis was taken by snowmobile to an awaiting North Memorial Ambulance near Big LaSalle Lake. The ambulance then took Davis to a clearing where a helicopter could land, and he was then flown to an Essentia hospital in Fargo to receive treatment for possible hypothermia.

On Monday, Kellner said the worker was treated and released. “Safety is our first priority for the thousands of workers who are currently replacing Line 3 on construction sites spread across the more than 330-mile route,” she said

Hubbard County was under a wind chill advisory at the time, with the wind chill reportedly between 34 and 38 degrees below zero at the Park Rapids Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

The incident is still under investigation by the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office. The Bemidji Fire Department also assisted at the scene.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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