The heroes among us

There’s plenty of depravity in the world, but the Duluth News Tribune today offers a timely reminder that there are still the Wayne Hoffmans among us, too.

Hoffman and his wife, Jan, were walking their three dogs along Lake Superior in Tofte when they saw a man on the shore at Bluefin Bay Resort. A wave swept the man into the water.

“I said, ‘Don’t … don’t. They’ll pull you in,’ ” Jan Hoffman tells the newspaper.

But her husband didn’t listen; he jumped in to save a man he didn’t know.

Wayne Hoffman, 66, and the man he tried to save, Evan “Alec” Johnson, 40, of Menomonie, Wis., both lost their lives to the rough, frigid waters, victims of 6-foot waves that hindered rescue efforts.

Through interviews, accident reports and other documents, the News Tribune has pieced together the events of that foggy, blustery day. Frantic rescue attempts gave way to a harrowing scene in which Jan Hoffman and others on shore watched helplessly as her husband’s body floated away and out of sight — left to be recovered several hours later, after an intensive search.

Both men were staying at Bluefin Bay. Neither man knew the other. They each had been enjoying an afternoon along Lake Superior with family members when circumstances turned deadly.

In the hours that Mrs. Hoffman watched her husband’s body floating offshore, a stranger took her dogs for a walk.

  • Robert Moffitt

    Heroic, yes. But what a terrible cost.
    Had he tied the dog’s leashes together and used it as a lifeline, the story might have had a happy ending — or not. Easy for us to second-guess what he/we might have done. I may have done the same thing Mr. Hoffman did — with likely the same outcome. I’m not nearly the swimmer that I like to I think I am, and those waves are brutal.