UW-Eau Claire student presumed dead after falling into Chippewa River
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A UW-Eau Claire sophomore is presumed dead after reportedly falling off the campus footbridge April 19 into the Chippewa River.
According to Eau Claire Fire and Rescue Operations, David Patrick Rodgers was seen on the railing of the footbridge just before 11 p.m. He was reported to have fallen in the river from somewhere near the middle of the bridge.
The Eau Claire Fire Department responded to a call after the incident and began searching the river. A total of six vehicles arrived at the scene, including three fire trucks and members of the Eau Claire Police Department.
The crews began their search where the river arrives at Fifth Avenue, just a block from Water Street. There was a boat on the river involved in the search as well.
After approximately two hours, the search was called off for the night because the river was moving very quickly and had large chunks of ice and debris in it, so rescue workers would have been in danger if they attempted to work through the
Crews continued the search the next day but did not find Rodgers. The search was ongoing as of Wednesday.
The river has been high in recent weeks due to melting snow and rainfall. The prolonged cold temperatures have left the river much colder than it has been at this point in the past as well.
Eau Claire students were alerted of the incident by an April 22 email sent by Dean of Students Brian Carlisle. Along with a brief message from Carlisle, the email included a message from Rodgers’ family and a poem that his mother said was important to Rodgers.
Since a body has not yet been discovered, authorities have not been able to confirm Rodgers’ death.
The case remains under investigation with the Eau Claire Police Department.
Check back for the latest updates in the story as they develop.
— The Spectator Staff