Body found in Minnesota River believed to be missing woman

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Authorities in Le Sueur County recovered a body in the Minnesota River Wednesday afternoon that is believed to be that of Moriah Zwart, the 20-year old Le Sueur woman who has been missing since Thursday night.

The body was found about 2 1/2 miles downstream from where Zwart and a friend had been camping, the Le Sueur County sheriff said in a news release, according to WCCO.

Zwart and her friend were camping and drinking on a sandbar on the Minnesota River on Thursday night, near the home of Zwart's parents.

The friend lost track of Zwart in the early hours of Friday morning, and authorities believe she was swept away by the river. They said they believe alcohol was a factor in the incident.

Zwart's disappearance prompted several search operations over the past week, as emergency responders combed the area and searched the river bottom for any sign of her.

Friends and family held a prayer vigil for Zwart Monday night in Le Sueuer, according to FOX 9.

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office will release the identity and official cause of death.

Recent deaths in area rivers

Zwart's case is just the latest in a string of recent deaths in area rivers. She is the fourth person to have been found dead in less than a week:

  • Troy Henry, 41, of Scandia, Minn., was found in the St. Croix River near his hometown Monday.
  • Abbey Russell, 24, of Stillwater, was found in the St. Croix River near Stillwater Saturday.
  • Robert Sontag, 20, a UW-River Falls student, was found in the Kinnickinnic River in River Falls Monday.

None of the cases are related and foul play is not suspected in any of them, authorities have said.

Although the causes of death in the four cases have not been determined, alcohol has been identified as a factor in some of them.

Deaths in Minnesota’s lakes and rivers are an unfortunately regular occurrence.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources notes there were 43 drowning deaths in the state in 2014, 14 of which came as a result of boating accidents on Minnesota’s waters.

The rest are a combination of deaths from non-boating incidents in lakes and rivers, and drownings in swimming pools and bathtubs.

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