UPDATE: Woman recovered from river in Winona identified - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

UPDATE: Woman recovered from river in Winona identified


WINONA, Minn. (WXOW/AP) – The Winona County Sheriff's Department has identified the woman recovered from a car that plunged through the ice into the Mississippi River in Winona.

Her name is Christina Lee Hauser, 36, of Winona. She leaves behind a husband and 16-year-old son, according to Sheriff Dave Brand.

A man's body was also recovered from the car. He's identified as a 30-year-old, but law enforcement is not releasing his name, yet.

Both passengers were wearing their seatbelts; there is no sign they tried to escape from the car, Brand said.

Two other people may be involved in the crash, according to Brand.

Hauser was last seen walking out of a tavern on Third Street in Winona with three men, he said. One is believed to be the victim in the car. The sheriff's department is still looking for the other two.

The Winona County Sheriff's Department said it happened around 1:20 a.m., though the accident wasn't reported until 7:30 a.m.

A passerby noticed tire tracks at Riverview Drive and Second Street that appeared to go over the dike and into the Mississippi.

Responders found a broken guard rail on Riverview Drive, as well as a license plate, purse and other debris on shore.

The dive team used an underwater camera to find the vehicle. It was 20 to 30 feet underwater, according to brand.

Authorities pulled it out of the water around noon.

The bodies recovered will undergo an autopsy at Mayo Clinic Health System in Rochester.

When responders got to the scene, they saw that the river re-froze over the crash site. That posed an obstacle for the Winona County Dive Rescue Team.

"(The water) can take up to a half our or so to freeze, so we were able to go in, get it done in that time period, and keep the hole open," said dive team leader Brian Buerck.

He said his team was only underwater 10 to 15 minutes – just to hook up the car to the tow truck.

That takes a lot of prep time because their equipment can freeze, Buerck added. "That was a big issue, how cold it was today."

A license plate located at the scene indicates the vehicle is registered to Hauser.

Brand said the investigation is ongoing and he will look at the possibility of other victims in the river.

A 1997 car crash in Winona happened feet from the spot of Sunday's accident.

In that crash, a sports utility vehicle with five people and two dogs was pulled from the river.

All were killed.

Reports at the time indicated the SUV appeared to have missed the turn onto Riverview Drive, skidded over the railroad tracks down the embankment, and landed in the river.

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