Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Second Ely-area drowning in a month claims VCC athlete

Keith Vandervort
Posted 9/5/18

ELY – An 18-year-old student at Vermilion Community College, from Detroit, Mich., drowned while swimming in Miner’s Lake on Labor Day.

Sean Giles Jr., a member of the VCC football team, …

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Second Ely-area drowning in a month claims VCC athlete

Posted

ELY – An 18-year-old student at Vermilion Community College, from Detroit, Mich., drowned while swimming in Miner’s Lake on Labor Day.

Sean Giles Jr., a member of the VCC football team, disappeared under the water while swimming around 3:50 p.m. He had been swimming with a group of friends near a boat landing on the north side of the lake at the time.

The St. Louis County Rescue Squad found him submerged in the water 20 minutes later. Rescuers pulled him to shore and attempted to revive him as they transported him to Ely Bloomenson Hospital. But those efforts were unsuccessful and he was declared dead shortly after his arrival.

One of Giles’ friends on Facebook said that he’d gone swimming Monday shortly after football practice had ended. Giles had attended high school in River Rouge, a suburb of Detroit.

VCC Provost Shawn Bina said Tuesday that the entire faculty and staff are helping the student community deal with the loss.

“Sean was a happy, confident student here and always had a smile on his face,” Bina said. “This was a tragic death and will leave a mark on our entire community.”

Giles was a second-year student and a defensive end on the Ironman football team. “Sean chose to stay in Ely over the summer and work,” Bina said. “He worked here at the college as well as at the Rockwood Restaurant and the Front Porch coffee shop in town.” Giles was the recipient of several scholarships last spring.

“The football team is sticking together and coming to terms with the loss of their teammate and will continue with their season. There may be a special memorial service, but right now it is too soon to think about,” Bina said.

Out of respect for the Vermilion Community College campus and the family of Sean Westly Giles, Jr., the decision was made to honor Sean as the solitary Eastern Division Player-of-the-Week, said Peter Watkins, executive director of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference.   

The incident remains under investigation by the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.

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