Old, young succumb to river drownings: 93-year-old Eau Claire man, Sheldon teen die MondayA 93-year-old Eau Claire man died Monday afternoon doing what he has done for many years, swimming in the Chippewa River, while a 17-year-old rural Sheldon boy drowned in the Flambeau River.
By: By Chuck Rupnow, The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Superior Telegram
A 93-year-old Eau Claire man died Monday afternoon doing what he has done for many years, swimming in the Chippewa River, while a 17-year-old rural Sheldon boy drowned in the Flambeau River.
The Eau Claire man drowned in the river, which flows past his residence on Riverview Drive on the city's north side, according to police and neighbors.
"He loved the river, and now he's gone," neighbor Terri Eslinger, 3022 Riverview Drive, said Monday evening, shortly after the man's body was found. "That's about all there is to say."
Eslinger said she'd been the man's neighbor for 37 years.
Eau Claire fire Battalion Chief Kim Nessel said emergency crews were notified at 5:36 p.m. by witnesses that a man had gone under while swimming with family near 3304 Riverview Drive and not resurfaced. A strong current swept him away from the dock.
Divers and rescue crews on two boats went to the area. Visibility for divers was about 4 feet. The body was found at 6:27 p.m. in about 12 feet of water and about 40 feet off shore from the Eslinger residence.
The man was taken to Luther Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"The current was a factor in rescuing himself," Nessel said. "The current levels are high and are still obviously at a point where they will tire a person and hinder a person's ability to self-rescue."
Rusk County sheriff's officials were notified at 10:48 a.m. Monday of a possible drowning in the Flambeau River north of Tony, Chief Deputy Gary Hahn said.
The body of Cody Gunn, a student at Flambeau High School, was recovered by divers at 6:15 p.m., about 30 yards from where he was last seen.
Police were told that Gunn had been with friends who were swimming in the river and diving from the Highway I bridge. Reports indicated Gunn had gone into the water, had trouble and a friend tried to bring him to shore but was not successful, and Gunn disappeared.
A search was conducted using boats, sonar and divers. The water in the Flambeau River at that location is up to 30 feet deep as part of the Flambeau Flowage.
The Sheriff's Department was assisted by the Ladysmith Fire Department, state Department of Natural Resources, Sawyer County Sheriff's Department, Township Fire Department, Ladysmith Police Department, Rusk County First Responders, State Patrol, and several volunteer boaters and divers.
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