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Victim of drowning near Duluth, Minnesota, identified

DULUTH, Minn. - Efforts to recover the body of an 18-year-old Wayzata man have been hampered so far by a host of factors associated with the river in Temperance River State Park, said the Cook County Sheriff's Office in a news release Monday.

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DULUTH, Minn. - Efforts to recover the body of an 18-year-old Wayzata man have been hampered so far by a host of factors associated with the river in Temperance River State Park, said the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in a news release Monday.

The search continued Monday for the body of Alec Paul Bertil Lawrenz, who was identified as the victim in the weekend drowning in the Temperance River, said the news release.

A strong river current, limited visibility and the presence of debris in the water have all hampered efforts to locate the body. The river bottom in the area ranges from 3 to 10 feet in depth and there are trees, rocks and concrete containing remnants of rebar, making dragging efforts problematic, said the news release. Rainy weather and rising water levels in the river have also impeded recovery efforts.   

The Cook County Search and Rescue team is being assisted by the Itasca and St. Louis county search and rescue teams. Divers have been ruled out so far today due to dangerous current and debris conditions.

Teams will use side sonar beginning Monday to get a better picture of the river bottom in the suspected location of the body.

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Lawrenz disappeared while swimming late Saturday.

Authorities were alerted by a 911 call just after 8:30 p.m. to a report of a person falling into a gorge in Temperance River State Park. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office determined that the man “went through the strong current under a bridge and did not resurface,” a previous news release said.

Search efforts that lasted into the first night resumed again Sunday morning.

Temperance River State Park, near Schroeder, is a popular stop on the North Shore where the river descends through a series of gorges and rapids to Lake Superior. It has been the site of at least seven other fatal accidents since the mid-1990s:

  • In August 2013, a 20-year-old Eden Prairie, Minn., man drowned while swimming in the Temperance River in Cook County.

  • In July 2009, a 45-year-old Ramsey, Minn., man drowned when he was swept away by the current while swimming in the river.

  • In June 2008, two members of a Twin Cities-area church group drowned when they were swept away after wading into a pool in the river just upstream from Highway 61.

  • In June 2001, a 22-year-old Finland man died from head injuries after falling into the river when he slipped while attempting to climb down a steep rock face.

  • In August 2000, a 50-year-old Arbor Vitae, Wis., man died after diving into the river to save his 8-year-old son, who while swimming in the river was swept by the current into Lake Superior. The father pushed his son closer to shore, where others pulled him to safety.

  • In July 1999, a 48-year-old Remer man drowned after he rescued his 12-year-old daughter from the river after she became trapped in the current.

  • In August 1996, a 14-year-old Crystal, Minn., boy drowned after he dove into the river just below a waterfall near Highway 61 while swimming with friends.

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