Body of man pulled from Red RiverRight after authorities launched two boats Sunday afternoon to search the Red River for a missing 19-year-old, crew members found a body matching his description floating near a north Grand Forks landing.
Right after authorities launched two boats Sunday afternoon to search the Red River for a missing 19-year-old, crew members found a body matching his description floating near a north Grand Forks landing.
“We were expecting the resurface with the water temperatures increasing, and obviously that’s what happened,” said Cpl. Thomas Inocencio of the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department. “Apparently our timing was impeccable today.”
Search crews had been looking for Delano Gaking since April 13 when a motorist crossing the Kennedy Bridge, which links Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, reported seeing a person outside the railing. When the driver looked back, the person was gone. No one reported actually seeing anyone that morning fall from the bridge into the water 25 to 30 feet below, but police discovered items belonging to Gaking on the bridge.
The body found shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday was roughly a mile downstream of the bridge, drifting near the landing just below Riverside Dam. Authorities expect to confirm today the identity of the body which, they said, was a man.
“We recovered a body that’s got similar clothing on, and that’s as far as we can say right now until we get the positive ID,” said Detective Mike Flannery of the Grand Forks Police Department.
An autopsy is planned for today, and preliminary results will likely be available within the next few days, Flannery said.
Gaking had been staying at a friend’s apartment in Riverside Manor, a building that sits along the river immediately south of the bridge in Grand Forks. The morning Gaking disappeared, he and his friend reportedly had an argument before Gaking left on foot. Gaking’s mother said her son was bipolar and would sometimes become depressed.
During the 13-day search for Gaking, boat crews focused their efforts in the area just below the bridge, using drag hooks, sonar systems and a specially trained dog. On Thursday, two boat crews went 25 miles downstream of the bridge, looking to see if his body had surfaced.
Inocencio, who leads the sheriff’s department’s water rescue team, said divers were expected to search near the bridge May 3, but that Sunday would likely have been the last day authorities deployed boat crews. On Sunday, crews planned to travel several miles downstream to Oslo, Minn., scanning the surface of the water for signs of the body, he said.
Herald outdoors writer Brad Dokken and local fishing guide Brad Durick were at the landing about to launch their boat when crews found the body. They said the search boats were on the water for less than 30 seconds before crews spotted the body and pulled it from the water about 20 yards from the landing.
“The second boat pushed away, and all of a sudden, I heard the first boat out there, ‘Uh, guys?’” Durick said. “They literally grabbed onto him right in front of the landing.”
Durick said he saw “just a lump of blue” in the water. The person seen on the bridge April 13 was wearing a blue, hooded sweatshirt, witnesses said.
Rattled by the discovery, Dokken and Durick canceled their catfishing trip.
“I don’t think I’m in the mood to fish right now,” Dokken said.
After the body was recovered, Gaking’s relatives embraced each other and shook hands with officers and other personnel at the scene, thanking them for finding the body.
“We’re really thankful for everybody in the sheriff’s department and everybody that was out there searching and looking,” said Gaking’s aunt, Teresa Blueshield.
“We were all so lost because we couldn’t find him,” she said. “Now, we have some kind of relief they’ve found him.”
Blueshield, 20, of Fort Totten, N.D., said Gaking was like a little brother to her.
“He was a jokester. He was funny. He liked movies and listening to music all the time,” she said of her nephew who grew up in Fort Totten. “He was kind of shy at first, but once you got to know him, you loved him.”
Gaking’s grandmother, Marsha Blueshield, said her grandson lived with her for five years and was “very special” to her.
“I’m at peace; finally they found him,” she said. “He’s home. He’s not suffering anymore.”
The family eventually plans to hold a funeral in St. Michael, N.D.
Reach Ingersoll at (701) 780-1269; (800) 477-6572, ext. 269; or send e-mail to email@example.com.