Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

VCC student drowns in Miner's Lake on Labor Day

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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. He was pulled to shore and lifesaving measures were started. He was then taken to the Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital as lifesaving efforts continued, but he was declared dead at the hospital, according to officials.

One of Giles’ friends on Facebook said that he'd gone swimming Monday shortly after football practice had ended. Giles Jr. 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 whole student community this week in dealing 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 planned, but right now it is too soon to think about,” Bina said.

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

As of Aug. 20, there had been 20 drownings in Minnesota this year that didn't involve boats, according to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources statistics.

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