PINE COUNTY, Minn. - A Lakeville man was rescued Thursday morning after being reported as missing for three days in the Nemadji Forest area of Pine County.
Authorities say they initially received a call on Tuesday morning from missing hunter, 61-year-old Robert Kniefel, of Lakeville, who said he got lost while grouse hunting. However, he was not able to talk long due to a limited cell phone signal.
Pine County deputies were dispatched to the area where they believed Kniefel made the call. They searched ATV trails and additional resources were called in from the Kerrick and Bruno fire departments.
Several searches were initiated but Kniefel was not found. A Pine County officer was able to exchange a few text messages with Kniefel before cell phone signal was lost again.
Authorities believed at that point, his cell phone had died.
Aerial, K-9 and several ground searches continued on Wednesday but Kniefel was not located.
On Wednesday evening, the State Patrol assisted in a night time search with thermal imaging equipment and located a person on an island with a fire, around 9 p.m.
However, when crews attempted to get to the person, through a swampy area, they were unsuccessful.
Then Thursday morning, a helicopter from the State Patrol located the missing hunter, with their rescue extraction team on board.
The rescue crew, the Minnesota Aerial Rescue Team, airlifted Kniefel with a rope/harness system and transported him to a farm field near Nickerson -- the helicopter was not able to land on the island.
Kniefel was reunited with family after being checked out by medical personnel. He had food and water with him, and said he rationed it as he knew help was searching for him.