Minnesota college student drowns at a South Dakota state park

Arbin Thapa's body was pulled from the water on Sunday morning.

A 19-year-old man whose body was pulled from a river in South Dakota has been identified as an international student attending college in Minnesota.

The Minnehaha County Sheriff's Office confirmed the body of Arbin Thapa was found at the Palisades State Park at around 10:50 p.m. Sunday morning. Thapa was a Nepalese national studying at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

The search started just after 5 p.m. Saturday, when Thapa failed to resurface after jumping off some rocks. He was at the park with some friends at the time.

Split Rock Creek flows through the state park, which is also home to rock formations that include 50-foot vertical cliffs over the water, according to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

It's not clear how high Thapa jumped from, but the Argus Leader quotes Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead as saying the water in the area can be treacherous and extremely cold in late April, which may have contributed to his death.

The newspaper notes that Thapa was found in a hole about 12 feet deep, with emergency manager Lynn DeYoung describing the area as an "ice cube tray."

With lake ice still present on some Minnesota lakes even in late April (particularly in the north of the state, as this picture shows), the Minnesota DNR has information on the dangers cold water can present to people. Particularly if they aren't wearing a life jacket.

The shock experienced by being submerged in cold water can lead to drowning in as little as 2-3 minutes if you don't have a life jacket.

Next Up


Bill in South Dakota would open state to 'fracking'

Some lawmakers in South Dakota want to show their support for hydraulic fracturing, a controversial process that uses water, sand and chemicals under high pressure to extract oil and gas from rock in the earth. The process has opened up new energy sources and driven down the cost of natural gas, but critics say it pollutes groundwater, and the EPA is studying it closely.