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Boater sucked underwater, killed while near Mississippi lock and dam

Even a high-powered boat would have trouble escaping the waters there, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.
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A boater died while in a restricted area near a Mississippi lock and dam system in southeast Minnesota.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District said on Facebook that the boater died on Friday when he entered the prohibited area of lock and dam No. 8, just north of where Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin meet.

The boater was pulled into the "churning water at the base of the dam," the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notes, saying the hydraulic effect below as dam "is incredibly dangerous."

"With the turned up water, a high powered boat would have a tough time escaping this turbulent water," it says.

The Star Tribune has identified the boater as 52-year-old James K. Freeman of Lansing, Iowa, who was pitched from his fishing boat and went under the dam gates. The Vernon County Sheriff's Office in Wisconsin told the newspaper Freeman had tried to lower his anchor but it failed to hold, and he was trying to put his life jacket on when the boat capsized.

Dangerous water around dams

Boats are restricted from entering the water 600 feet upstream of the dam, and 150 feet downstream of the dam, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say. These areas are marked off with buoys and signage on the shore or lock walls.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shared the following news report showing how the dam's structure makes the water particularly deadly.

During navigation season between mid-March to mid-December, around 16 million tons of cargo and 9,000 recreational craft pass through the No. 8 lock, which is located around 16 miles south of La Crosse.

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