A dive team recovered the body of a 22-year-old man declared missing after a tugboat lost power, went over a dam and capsized Wednesday morning on the Mississippi River near Dresbach, Minn.
Officials identified the victim as Tyler Tusson.
The Winona County sheriff's office received a call for help at 6:15 a.m. Wednesday after the boat capsized at Lock and Dam No. 7. Three crew members went into the water. Two escaped with minor injuries, but one was missing.
As rescue efforts began, Sheriff Dave Brand said Tusson had a life jacket on and could have been trapped in a part of the boat with an air pocket. Searchers approached the incident as an active rescue mission, not a recovery effort, as they held out hope for survival.
Divers with Brennan Marine Inc., based out of La Crosse, found Tusson's body at about 3:15 p.m., roughly a half an hour after they entered the water.
"Finally, when we were able to get the dive team in, one diver did go in and found the deceased -- the 22-year-old male -- in not the top floor, but the second floor down," Brand said. "He was in there and he did have a life jacket on."
Brand said Tusson was a married Wisconsin man with no children.
Lifting the boat out of the water was viewed a last resort because investigators believed Tusson may have survived inside. A remote-controlled camera was deployed Wednesday afternoon, but it was unsafe to send divers into the boat until the vessel was stabilized.
"We do have a robot that we put in, that -- at this point -- they put into the tugboat to see if we could see anything. There's three or four floors to this tugboat and I believe this person we're looking for may have been at the bottom of the boat," Brand said. "We're not sure."
When asked why investigators believed Tusson was still inside, Brand admitted that it was speculation based on where he was last seen.
The boat is owned by Brennan Marine Inc., which sent divers to the scene at 2:30 p.m. in the place of divers from the Sheriff's department due to safety concerns.
"We did not go in the tugboat because it's full of water -- it's on its side," Brand said. "We didn't want to send any divers in there at this point because it's too risky for our divers with the current there."
Brand explained that the current had to be slowed because the boat was stuck in the roller gate before divers could enter.
Brennan Marine Inc. confirmed the boat is new, built in 2012 and christened just a week ago. The M/V Megan McB has been in use all spring and was helping barges line up to go through the lock when the power failed while the boat returned to its mooring position.
The company released the following statement about the death on Wednesday evening:
It is with profound grief that we have recovered the body of our missing crew member from the Megan McB. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and fellow crew members as we mourn a loss to the Brennan team. We are currently working closely with the Coast Guard and other response agencies to determine the cause of this terrible incident. The vessel has been secured in its present location. Additional information regarding salvage operations will be reported when available.
The Mississippi River was closed for several miles in each direction during the search and rescue. Dresbach is just over the border from La Crosse, Wis.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
Eleven people were rescued after a 58-foot houseboat tipped over in the same spot Memorial Day weekend. A preliminary investigation in that case indicated the boat may have lost power before it was swept into the rollers at Lock and Dam No. 7.
A family of four drowned in 2007 when their boat lost power in the same area.