WINONA — Authorities recovered the body of a Stewartville man from the Mississippi River on Monday, the third victim from a crash early Sunday when an SUV plowed through a guardrail and broke through the ice.
The search will continue today for a suspected fourth victim.
Winona County Sheriff Chief Deputy Ron Ganrude identified the body as Blake Overland, 28, of Stewartville. He was found about 3 p.m. near where the car was found. Andrew Kingsbury, 29, of La Crosse, Wis., is still missing.
The search for Kingsbury resumed today at 9 a.m., with assistance from the Olmsted County Dive Rescue team.
“We’re going to drill holes, and see if we can locate him with sonar,” Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand said. “We’re hoping the body is still near the location, where the other one was found.”
Christina Lee Hauser, 36, of Winona, and Matthew Patrick Erickson, 30, of Chatfield, were pronounced dead at about noon Sunday when Hauser’s vehicle was pulled from the river. The SUV had been submerged for about 10 hours. They were still wearing their seatbelts, with Hauser in the driver’s seat.
A search was initiated almost immediately after witnesses said Overland and Kingsbury were observed leaving a Winona bar with Hauser and Erickson at 1:20 a.m. Sunday. Overland and Kingsbury were not found in the recovered vehicle, but a back window was missing, as if it had been kicked out, Brand said.
Authorities located the cars of Overland and Kingsbury but were unable to find anyone who had seen or heard from them since leaving the bar. Brand said the three men had been friends “for quite some time,” and the Winona Daily News is reporting all three graduated from Lanesboro High School.
The three deceased have been taken to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for autopsies as the search for Overland continues.
Authorities battled frigid conditions in hopes of providing relatives with that closure. The Winona County Sheriff’s Department, Winona County Search Operations Assistance and Rescue and the Winona County Dive Rescue teams have been leading the search. A robotics unit from Carver County was called in Monday to help comb the ice-covered river and will return Wednesday if Kingsbury is not found today.
With the wind chill at minus 40, Brand said Monday the rescue crews will exercise caution while working in the extreme conditions.
“The first thing is our safety,” he said. “We don’t want to get frostbit. There’ll be a vehicle out there with coffee and to get warm.”
The crash occurred as Hauser was driving on Huff Street near the interstate bridge. However, Hauser apparently failed to navigate the sharp turn, sending the vehicle crashing through the guardrail and plunging through about 4 inches of ice, Brand said.
The incident wasn’t reported until another driver noticed the scene at 7:19 a.m. on Sunday. Emergency responders found the SUV’s right tire, a license plate and other personal items on the ice, which had frozen over in the hours since the crash.
The Minnesota State Patrol is seeking a search warrant to obtain the black box from the SUV in order to determine how fast it was traveling at the time of the crash and to reconstruct the scene. Brand said that process can take weeks.
Toxicology tests from Sunday’s incident are not yet complete.