Deputy Jim Mikla was enjoying a day off fishing with his wife, Kathy, and four-year-old son, Steven, last Saturday.
He was probably not thinking about his duties as a St. Croix County Sheriff's Department investigator as he took in an idyllic afternoon on Menomonie's Lake Menomin on the first day of summer.
Then a boat raced across the lake and made a sharp turn. "I heard screaming for help and called 911," said Mikla as he recalled the incident in his Hudson office Monday.
After the 39-year-old investigator called for emergency assistance he fired up his 14-foot fishing rig with a 9.8 hp motor and headed to the distressed boat to lend a hand. He said there were women in the boat and a man in the water hanging on to the gunwales.
"I got closer and I could see bleeding from his head," said Mikla. The deputy boarded the other boat and with the help of one of the women hauled the man into the boat. "He was a big guy, over 300 pounds," the deputy said.
"I applied direct pressure to the head wound that slowed down the bleeding," he said.
"I called for a water rescue and a team from Menomonie was there within five minutes," Mikla said.
After getting the situation under control, Mikla learned the accident victim was Erik M. Affolter, 25, a former Hudson resident. Affolter was flown to a hospital for treatment, said Mikla.
Affolter, apparently recovered from his wounds, told an Eau Claire TV station Monday evening that his motor malfunctioned and caused the boat to turn fast and throw him overboard.
"As I went over, I saw the propeller coming, so I put my hand up. It hit my hand and hit my head. I didn't even feel it hit my head," he said.
A boating accident that could have been tragic had a good ending. "You always like a positive outcome," Mikla said.