St. Paul hires engineering firm to examine Lilydale landslide site

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The city of St. Paul has hired a civil engineering firm to analyze the site of a landslide this week at a St. Paul park that left two children dead.

Nine-year-old Haysem Sani and 10-year-old Mohamed Fofana were fourth-graders on a fossil-hunting field trip from Peter Hobart Elementary in St. Louis Park. Funerals were held Friday, FOX 9 reports. MPR has more about the two boys.

Two others were injured in the incident. Officials say the group of students was exploring a popular fossil area at Lilydale Regional Park when the rain-soaked ground gave way Wednesday.

The city announced Friday that the city has hired Northern Technologies Inc. to help with the investigation. The company has experience evaluating collapses and natural disasters, Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hahm said in a news release. The city indefinitely closed the area of the park where the landslide happened.

"We will continue to really try to understand," Mayor Chris Coleman has said. "It was a tragic day in the city of St. Paul."

A Minnesota geologist told KSTP that this type of slide happens routinely, is natural, unpredictable and occurs in a split second.

On Friday morning, Gov. Mark Dayton spoke at an emotional ceremony at Peter Hobart Elementary School in St. Louis Park, WCCO reported. “I wish I could say something to make it all better, and I wish I could explain something as to why this terrible thing happened,” he said, WCCO reported. “I can’t. But I know, looking and seeing all of you, Haysem and Mohamed’s spirits will be carried on through all of you.”

The Pioneer Press reports that a 2009 study commissioned by the city of St. Paul highlighted the problem of erosion along the river bluffs, but the study does not specifically highlight concern about the area where two fourth-grade students were killed.

St. Louis Park has been in mourning over the tragedy, KSTP reports.

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