Jim Kowalski, founder of Kowalski’s Markets, died in an accident involving a float plane during a fishing trip in Canada Thursday morning.
Police told the Star Tribune that around 10:30 a.m., officers were called to an isolated lake in Ontario, about 20 miles south of Red Lake, on a report that a man had been injured.
By the time officers arrived, Kowalski had been flown to the Red Lake airport where paramedics were waiting, but he died before arriving.
FOX 9 confirmed with police Friday that Kowalski had been standing on a Cessna plane’s float as it was taxiing to shore. Police said Kowalski lost his balance and fell into the propeller, suffering fatal injury.
An autopsy is being conducted Friday morning. Kowalski was 67 years old.
Kowalski was with a friend at the time who was not injured.
In 1983, Jim Kowalski was working for the Red Owl grocery store chain when he and his wife, Mary Anne, decided to buy what had been an underperforming store on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue, according to the Pioneer Press.
Kowalski founded Kowalski’s Market in White Bear Lake three years later. He and his wife are co-owners of the what is now nine stores that employ nearly 1,200 people.
Longtime local musician – and former contestant on NBC’s “The Voice” – Tim Mahoney is apparently a family member, and tweeted this Thursday evening:
Very very sad day My uncle Jim Kowalski has died in a tragic accident. A true icon and awesome man. @kowalskismarket words cannot express:(
— Tim Mahoney (@timmahoneymusic) September 5, 2013
The Woodbury Patch posted this video of the history of Kowalski’s Markets: