The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

June 24, 2013

Update: Rising river makes search difficult

Missing kayaker a popular teacher, coach


Two maps of the Minnesota River were hanging behind Nicollet County Chief Deputy Karl Jensen at the Courtland Fire Department as he explained the challenges of the search. It was in its third day Monday. At the same time nine boats filled with more than two dozen searchers from several area law enforcement agencies were on the river.

Sonar was being used to identify favorable areas to search, Jensen said. Those areas were then being probed with poles and dragged. The water was moving too fast to use divers.

Jensen said he was planning to use only three boats Tuesday if Fritze wasn't found before the search ended Monday. The water on the river was high and moving fast when the three men started their trip. The depth had risen two feet from Sunday night to Monday morning. Jensen was being told the water level could rise five more feet Thursday. That was without any more rain, and rain was in the forecast Monday night, Tuesday and Wednesday.

"With the water getting higher, I'm more and more reluctant to put boats on the water," Jensen said.

He was hoping to be able to use search dogs Tuesday, if necessary. The dogs are able to smell odors that could lead searchers to a general area to check more closely.

In addition to the searchers, other people were posted down stream to watch for Fritze's body. Jensen suspected it had become caught up in branches in the area where the kayaks capsized. Faster moving water could send the body downstream quickly, however. It could also get caught up again before it is found.

"The river is such a different animal," Jensen said. "You just don't know what's going to happen with the victim."

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