OSLO, Minn. — A 40-year-old North Dakota man is safe at home after spending much of early Friday morning clinging for life on the top of his SUV after it was swept off the road by floodwater.

Marshall County Sheriff Jason Boman said with the combination of a snow storm and rising flood waters, he was not surprised when he got the call early on April 12.

"(We knew) we were going to be rescuing somebody," he said, knowing that road conditions were going to be terrible across the county overnight. Two people died near Oslo during the flood of 1997 after their car sank in flood waters.

Police say it all the time: Don't drive around barricades onto closed roads. A man driving through Marshall County to meet with a friend did exactly that Friday, and ended up needing to be rescued just 20 miles north of Oslo.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

The last anyone heard from him before the rescue was around 5:30 a.m. He said he was near the intersection of Minnesota Highway 220 and Marshall County Highway 5.

It took a few hours before police were able to spot him — barely. The man's cellphone didn't work so he was unable to call for help and he was too cold to even talk when an airboat from Oslo Fire and Rescue finally reached him.

Oslo Fire and Rescue workers stand next to an airboaton the edge of a flooded field where a driver became stranded early Friday. Special to InForum
Oslo Fire and Rescue workers stand next to an airboaton the edge of a flooded field where a driver became stranded early Friday. Special to InForum

Boman said the 40-year-old Grafton man ignored multiple closure signs and was headed south on Highway 220 when 2 1/2 feet of water from the flooded Red River and overland flooding washed his Cadillac Escalade off the road and into a ditch. Just 6 inches can wash a vehicle off the road, the sheriff said.

The man was dressed in only a hoodie and sweatpants was stuck on his floating vehicle for nearly four hours.

"You could see it moving around. The guys on the airboat had to grab onto the roof rack and hold on to it when they pulled the guy off," Boman said. "They had to help him off, he couldn't walk, he was frozen."

An Oslo Fire and rescue air boat on floodwaters in Marshall County, Minn., Friday morning, April 12. Special to InForum
An Oslo Fire and rescue air boat on floodwaters in Marshall County, Minn., Friday morning, April 12. Special to InForum

The man is now safe, according to emergency officials, but along with a hospital bill the man will also have to pay a $1,000 fine for ignoring the road closed signs and putting the lives of others in danger.

"Getting a ticket isn't the end of the world but could have been the end of the world for him," Boman said.

Driving around barricades can also get a driver up to 90 days in jail, but Boman said it's unlikely in this case.

Location of the rescue