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Shetek drowning victim identified

SLAYTON -- The name of Monday's 6-year-old Lake Shetek drowning victim was identified Tuesday as Kyle Xayphantho of Worthington.

The boy died after falling or jumping into the Lake Shetek inlet on U.S. 59 in northern Murray County Monday morning. The incident was reported at about 10:54 a.m. Monday, and after an intense rescue effort, the boy was found under the inlet bridge under the highway at about 11:30 a.m., according to the Murray County Sheriff's Department.

After being transported to the Tracy Hospital and then by North Care Air Ambulance to Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D., he was pronounced dead on arrival at 2:04 p.m.

The inlet location is a popular, albeit dangerous fishing spot, Murray County Sheriff Steve Telkamp said Tuesday.

"It's a heavily populated area for fishing and when people are traveling 55 miles per hour in two directions, it's always an issue for people who are going down there to fish," Telkamp said. "It's right on Highway 59, and there's an awful lot of traffic that flows through that area.

"When the water's high, it's also turbulent water," Telkamp added. "We've had some rain here, so it is higher than normal. It's rushing under the culvert pretty good."

The inlet is located 1½ miles south of the border between Murray and Lyon counties. The victim was fishing with relatives, authorities said, when he wandered away and fell or jumped into the inlet dam on the west side of the highway. He was not wearing a life jacket and was dressed in a winter coat, snow pants and snow boots.

Personnel from the Murray County Sheriff's Office, Slayton Police Department, Fulda Police Department, Minnesota State Patrol and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources responded to the call. Fire departments from Currie, Dovray, Balaton, Slayton and Tracy also responded along with Lake Shetek First Responders and the Tracy Ambulance. A dozen or more rescue workers tethered themselves to ropes and put on cold water suits to search for the child in water temperatures estimated at 40 degrees.

Telkamp said law enforcement personnel have been concerned about dangers associated with the popular fishing spot for many years. Officers in his own department have often discussed the need to limit access or warn others about the site -- through the use of guard rails, warning signs or no-parking signs. But control of the area is beyond the Sheriff's Department's scope, he said.

"It's a state highway, and that's up to the state, the Department of Transportation," Telkamp said. "But it's something that we've talked about for many years."

He added, "I was out there for five hours the night before this happened -- myself and a deputy. ... Just trying to keep vehicles from parking too close to the road."

But shortly after Monday's incident, people returned to fish in the dangerous waters.

"By noon, it was full," Telkamp said.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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