High-tech river search resumes for 4th crash victim in Winona

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Searchers in Winona who have toiled in bitter cold conditions planned Thursday to launch a fifth day of their efforts to find the body of a car crash victim in the Mississippi River, the Winona Daily News reports.

An SUV plunged into the river early Sunday, killing driver Christina Lee Hauser and two others in the vehicle, Matthew Patrick Erickson and Blake Overland. Their bodies have been recovered.

But the search continues for Andrew Kingsbury, 29, of La Crosse, who also was believed to have been in a car.

Investigators say the four are believed to have left a downtown bar together at 1:20 a.m. Sunday. Their vehicle failed to make a turn, crashed through a guard rail and into the river. The Winona County Sheriff’s Department got a call about the incident roughly six hours later, at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

Search crews are using a number of high-tech tools, including sonar, robots, and underwater cameras, the Winona Daily News reports.

Those tools can be a big help because, in general, it can be nearly impossible for search divers in rivers to see, and what little visibility there is is typically erased by the sediment they kick up from the river bottom, so they essentially find targets by feel, according to an article in the publication Fire Chief.

Bodies in water will often resurface when decomposition begins, but cold water makes resurfacing less likely, according to a Ventura County (Calif.) dive team webpage on water rescue and drownings.

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