The fly fishing community was stunned earlier this week as tragic news came out of Iceland, reports that announced the untimely deaths of two well-known La Crescent, Minn. anglers and guides, Brian Schumacher and his wife Janet Veit.
While there are some conflicting details about exactly how the tragedy unfolded, the couple is reported to have perished when the combination of swift current and frigid water temperatures took them under.
Veteran Wisconsin smallmouth guide Tim Landwehr, owner of Tight Lines Fly Fishing Co. in DePere, Wis. and co-author with Dave Karczynski of the recent book Smallmouth: Modern Fly-Fishing Methods, Tactics, and Techniques, made the sad announcement on his Facebook page:
“It is with a truly heavy heart that I post this message. May 20th we lost friends Brian Schumacher and Janet Veit to a most unfortunate accident while fishing in Iceland. From what I understand Janet fell out of a boat and Brian jumped in swiftly to save her from the cold waters. When recovered they could not resuscitate either of them.
I had the privilege of meeting both of them and sharing time at fly fishing trade shows. We are all an incredibly close-knit group in the Midwest because our industry is so small. The loss of these two leaves a hole in the Midwest fly fishing culture. I will miss you both.”
Landwehr later posted another Facebook post that gave additional details:
“This is the post on Brian Schumacher Facebook page.
With tremendous sadness, the families of Brian Schumacher and Janet Veit are reporting the information that we received from the US Embassy in Iceland yesterday. Janet and Brian both died yesterday, May 20. We have received conflicting reports, but the Embassy representative reported that Janet fell into the water while fishing. She was in distress and Brian entered the water to assist her. The water was very cold. Both of them were pulled from the water but could not be resuscitated.
There are no arrangements for any services yet as it will take the officials of Iceland and of the U.S some time to process this terrible accident. Our family members have now all been notified. If you are able to contact any of their many, many friends to let them know of this tragedy, please feel free to do so. Funeral arrangements will be announced as soon as possible.
In a world of wonderful people, Janet and Brian were pretty near the top. They loved their families, their friends, their colleagues, their dogs and cats, and most importantly, each other. Please keep them in your hearts today and in the future. Be kind to those you meet, as they would. Peace to you all.”
When contacted, Landwehr stated that the horrible news about the loss of his friends was … “truly a terrible shock.” He later added that “The Midwest industry is so small and this really is tough for all of us to deal with.”
An online story by Pat Pheifer on the Star Tribune newspaper indicated that Veit, 48, was a veterinarian at Hillside Animal Hospital in La Crosse, Wis., while Schumacher, 48, was a histologist at Gundersen Health Clinic in the same community.
Pheifer’s story also notes that Veit led a Becoming an Outdoor Woman fly-fishing class at Whitewater State Park in southern Minnesota. She and her husband also reportedly taught wounded veterans how to fly fish as well.