Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published January 06 2014
Third Mississippi River accident victim found after Minn. crashWINONA, Minn. – A third body was found Monday, a day after a vehicle was pulled from Mississippi River near here.
The body was spotted early Monday afternoon near where a sport utility vehicle with two bodies inside was removed from the river Sunday. The identity of the third victim was not immediately known.
Two dive teams continued to use underwater cameras and sonar to search the Mississippi Sunday and Monday, hunting for the body of a fourth person who authorities suspect may have gone into the water in the accident that claimed two other lives.
Bodies of the driver and her front-seat passenger were found belted in the vehicle Sunday afternoon.
They were identified as Christina Lee Hauser, 36, of Winona and Matthew Patrick Erickson, 30, of Chatfield.
“We’re not sure” if the two men who had been seen in the vehicle were in it when it went into the river, Chief Winona County Deputy Sheriff Chief Ron Ganrude said before the third body was found.
“Last evening, we spent a lot of time talking to family and friends of everyone who we feel is involved in this,” he said.
The men, in their late 20s, are thought to be from La Crosse, Wis., and Stewartville, Minn.
“Four people left the bar at the same time and two of those people were seat-belted in and the bodies recovered,” Ganrude said.
The deputy said that since authorities had not located the two elsewhere, they must assume the men were in the car when it went into the river.
Authorities say the vehicle apparently went into the river early Sunday, but it was not until several hours later that a passerby saw tracks leading to the water and called 911.
The vehicle was going around a sharp turn when it left the road.
Hauser, Erickson and the two other men were seen at several bars Saturday night.