- Posted May 26, 2014 by
Saint Paul Park, Minnesota
Memorial Day Weekend Turns Tragic For Two Families In Minnesota
Two suspected drownings occurred Sunday in Minnesota, turning the holiday weekend into a tragedy for friends and families of two individuals.
The first occurred around 5:15 PM when authorities were called to Lion's Levee Park in St. Paul Park, located in Washington County about 10 miles Southeast of St. Paul.
There, a 14 year old boy went for a swim in the Mississippi River with friends to cool off. His friends say he went to retrieve a stick in the water, and thats when the boy went under and never resurfaced.
A St. Paul Park police officer was at the park when the call came in and enlisted the help of a nearby boater to help locate the missing boy.
"We were on shore close to the water seeing if he floated up, if he was hanging on to something. At that point, he had been down for 20 minutes," said Nicholas Rosen, who was fishing nearby.
10 agencies responded to the scene to assist with the search, bringing boats and divers to the scene. A Minnesota State Patrol helicopter also assisted with the search.
The river was moving at an estimated 9-10 knots. "Normal is probably 3 to 4 [knots]," Mike Kramer, assistant fire chief if the St. Paul Park Fire Department, explained. "Water is high due to all the rainfall we've had lately." The high current made search efforts difficult for divers.
The rescue search was called off around 7:30 PM. The Washington County Sheriff's office remained on-scene and recovered his body around 1:30 AM.
The second presumed drowning occurred around 6 PM when authorities were called to a scenic boat landing in Taylors Falls, located in Chisago County, about 50 miles Northeast of St. Paul.
There, a 21 year old man went into the turbulent river to rescue his 11 year old nephew, Calvin. The victim, Toufue Vang, along with a good samaritan jumped into the river to rescue the boy who fell into the water. The boy and the good samaritan made it to shore, but Vang was apparently pulled under due to the heavy current and never resurfaced.
Search crews searched for hours on Sunday near the boat landing for any sign of Vang before suspending the search. They resumed on Monday using divers and boats with sonar.
Vang's family is remembering him as a hero. "He went in with his clothes and shoes on," said sister Patty Vang of St. Paul. "He's a hero to my family and to everyone else."
His sister described Vang as a jolly person who loved to help people.
"We are fortunate that Calvin is ok but we are grieving for (Toufue) ," said Patty Vang. "He was going to get married in August. I can only imagine his girlfriend is feeling so sad."
Authorities are reminding all people around the water this holiday weekend to be extra cautious around high waters.
"Be safe, really be safe around the water, especially when the current is moving fast, moving quick," said St. Paul Park Police Chief Michale Monaghan. "It's not a safe environment to go into, definitely not."