Man’s body pulled from Buffalo RiverFoul play is not suspected in the death of a 66-year-old man whose body was pulled from the Buffalo River in Hawley, Minn., on Sunday morning, about two hours after family members reported him missing, the city’s police chief said.
By: Mike Nowatzki, The Forum, Worthington Daily Globe
Foul play is not suspected in the death of a 66-year-old man whose body was pulled from the Buffalo River in Hawley, Minn., on Sunday morning, about two hours after family members reported him missing, the city’s police chief said.
Chief Ernest Rhodes identified the deceased as James L. Johnson of Hawley.
Johnson’s daughter, Angie Burnside of Hawley, said her father’s brother, Joseph Johnson, drowned in Lake Melissa near Detroit Lakes, Minn., while fishing in June 2005.
“So it was kind of a big blow to us for it to happen again,” she said by phone Sunday.
Authorities don’t know when Johnson entered the river, but they believe it happened in the area of a footbridge that spans the Buffalo River about 200 yards north of U.S. Highway 10, Rhodes said.
Johnson had to cross the footbridge to get from his son’s house in the Riverside Trailer Park to his own house in the Riverview Acres Trailer Park on the east side of Hawley, Rhodes said.
Police believe Johnson left his son’s house on the west side of the river about 9:15 p.m. Saturday, Rhodes said.
“We’re still checking on the circumstances as to how he entered the river,” he said.
Family members reported Johnson missing at about 5:30 a.m. Sunday, he said.
Hawley firefighters searching for Johnson found him deceased about a mile downriver from the footbridge, his body caught on an old lock dam near the golf cart sheds at the Hawley Golf Course, Rhodes said.
A woman who called police at 6:49 a.m. Sunday said she found Johnson’s glasses and cell phone lying next to the walking bridge, according to the police dispatch log.
Burnside said the woman was a girlfriend of her father’s and that the woman had already picked up the items by the time her brother got the call Sunday morning.
“So, we’re not even real sure where they were laying … everything is kind of a little mixed up to us,” Burnside said. “I know we both just want to make sure it gets investigated to the fullest, and I think they’re doing a good job of doing that.”
Johnson’s remains were sent to the Ramsey County medical examiner’s office for an autopsy. It’s unknown whether alcohol was a factor in his death, Rhodes said.
Burnside, 38, said her father was a retired water well driller who enjoyed hunting and fishing with her brother, James L. Johnson Jr., 36.
“They were just actually getting ready to go (ice) fishing today,” she said.
James L. Johnson Sr., who went by “Jim,” was a Detroit Lakes, Minn., native who moved to Hawley five years ago to be closer to his two children and six grandchildren, Burnside said.
“(He) just liked to be around people,” she said.