DNR conservation officer, Ken Lonneman says they are not exactly sure why Kevin Simmons was in the water. “From what we can tell at the scene, we believe he just became disoriented and once he got into the cattail marsh — because of the height of the cattails — he was not able to find his way back to shore,” Lonneman says. “When the located him in the water from a boat, he was about 200 yards from shore and in about two-and-a-half feet of water.”
Lonneman says hunters near the lake called for help. “We got the 911 call from two pheasant hunters who heard him calling for help about 4:40 p.m.,” Lonneman says. He says they found Simmons around 6:30. Lonneman says the darkness and the cattails on the lake made it difficult to find him.
“Big Wall Lake is a thousand-acre cattail marsh. And that part of the lake, the west side of the lake, is very tall cattails,” Lonneman explains. “And he had wandered in from the northwest corner of the lake and was 200 yards from any solid land in extremely tall cattails.” Lonneman says Simmons’ family did not know why he was at the lake and he says it doesn’t appear Simmons was hunting.
“We can’t say that he was hunting because he did not have a hunting license. We never found a gun and he did not have any hunting equipment with him — such as waders or ammunition or anything like that,” according to Lonneman. “So I think he was walking the area and he got disoriented when he got out in those tall cattails.” Lonneman says the conditions would make it tough to survive for very long in the water.
“I’m guessing the water temp was right at 34 degrees. It was not frozen, but very cold water temperatures and he could have been in the water for up to two hours,” Lonneman says.
Simmons was facedown in the water when he was pulled out and treated at the scene. He later died at the hospital from what is believed to be exposure and hypothermia.