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Fast currents, cold temps making rivers hazardous

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Two apparent drowning accidents on the same day in two different Minnesota rivers highlight the dangerous water conditions in the state right now.

Many rivers and lakes have higher water levels this spring because of recent rainfall, and currents in many rivers are running much stronger than usual, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The DNR is warning people to be extremely careful around rivers and lakes.

The strong currents were factors in the Sunday afternoon accidents on the Mississippi River in St. Paul Park, in the east metro area, and another on the St. Croix River near Taylors Falls, north of the Twin Cities. In each case, a person who went into the water was swept away by the strong current.

Searchers are still looking for the missing man, 21-year-old Tou Hu Vang of Coon Rapids, who jumped into the St. Croix River in an attempt to save his nephew after he had fallen in. Calvin Vang, 11, was rescued by a Good Samaritan who jumped from a 30-foot cliff after hearing his cries.

The high water level is making it difficult to search for Vang, according to Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan. He told Fox 9 that it's too risky for his boats to drag the river, so crews are only able to scan banks and the river's surface.

The body of a 14-year old boy was found early Monday morning in the Mississippi River near St. Paul Park. The young man had gone into the river near a park when he was swept away and didn't resurface.

Sheriff Duncan told FOX 9 that even the best swimmers would have a hard time in many Minnesota rivers right now because of the strong currents and debris that is floating in the water.

"It changes every single day, so you never know what you might be hitting or be entangled in," Duncan said.

The DNR also warns that most river and lake water is still dangerously cold. Temperatures are generally in the 60-65 degree range, which is well below the safe threshold of 70 degrees.

The shock of jumping into cold water can cause a person to inhale water, and even a small amount could lead to drowning, according to the DNR.

The DNR has an interactive map which tracks the water conditions and danger levels on all Minnesota rivers.

FOX 9 spoke to the Good Samaritan, Ken Hawj, about how he rescued Calvin.

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