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Hunting Accident File > Safe Fishing?: > 2005

Fisherman's dream life ends with Lake Wilson drowning

By Leila Fujimori
lfujimori@starbulletin.com 

Wisconsin native Jeffrey Allen Ninmann's dream was to own a boat and be a fishing guide.

A few days ago, he fulfilled half of that dream with the purchase of a $40,000 fishing boat.

But the dream ended with Ninmann's death Wednesday when he drowned at Lake Wilson.

Ninmann had been bass-fishing on his boat while a friend was fishing on another boat. At one point, Ninmann sped off and lost control of his boat, according to a firefighter.

His former wife, Kimberly Ficas, knew about Ninmann's dream, but she said she had always thought he would be a fishing guide in Wisconsin.

But when Ninmann, a military intelligence officer at Schofield Barracks, left the Army in the late 1980s, he decided to remain in Hawaii, she said.

"He never really said why but he loved to fish," Ficas said.

Ninmann divorced and grew apart from his two daughters, who remain in Wisconsin.

His daughters, 18 and 19, were devastated by the news, Ficas said.

"They never had closure. It's sad Jeffrey wasn't aware that he would soon be a grandpa," Ficas said. "He would've been a grandfather twice this year."

Both daughters -- Michelle Ninmann, 19, and Jennifer Ninmann Briggs, 18 -- are expecting. Ficas said she and her two daughters will be flying to Hawaii.

She described her ex-husband as a very intelligent man who obtained three college degrees -- in biology, psychology and landscape architecture -- before joining the military as an enlisted man.

He graduated from Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, Ga., in June 1986, Ficas said.

She said he loved all kinds of angling, "wherever there was water," and also went ocean fishing and even fished for marlin.

He was also an avid hunter. "He used to hold the record for the biggest deer at Fort Huachuca (Ariz.)," Ficas said.

Ficas said she is puzzled by Ninmann's death since he was an excellent swimmer. Fire rescue divers recovered the body in 45 to 50 feet of murky water. The Medical Examiner's Office said he drowned. Authorities said he had no visible injuries.

Police said speed might have been a factor in the accident. Ninmann was not wearing a life vest, although some were on board the vessel, police said.

Ninmann is also survived by mother Myra, sister Lisa and brother Ross.

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