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Man drowns while trying to help grandchildren in lake northwest of Duluth

A 60-year-old Janesville, Minn., man drowned Friday afternoon in Nichols Lake northwest of Duluth while attempting to help his grandchildren after they fell into the water.

Emergency crews from several agencies responded just before 1 p.m. to a call that two children were unaccounted for and possibly in the water. The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office reported that the children were on a tube being pulled by a paddleboat when the tube overturned. The children were wearing life jackets but panicked.

Their grandfather, Douglas Yentsch, went into the water to help them and did not resurface.

Yentsch, who was not wearing a life jacket, was recovered by neighbors on the lake in about 12 feet of water after about 20 minutes, said Dave Phillips, St. Louis County undersheriff. Efforts by rescuers and emergency personnel to revive him were unsuccessful.

The children were not injured.

Traffic along southbound U.S. Highway 53 was stopped for a while so a medical helicopter could land on the highway, but the helicopter’s services were not needed.

Nichols Lake is about 30 miles northwest of Duluth.