Rescue crews volunteer time to look for missing man in Winona - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Rescue crews volunteer time to look for missing man in Winona


WINONA, Minnesota (WXOW) – After eleven days of searching, there's still no sign of a missing La Crosse man presumed drowned in the Mississippi River.

On Jan. 5, rescue crews started their recovery efforts after an SUV crashed through the ice in Winona.

Within the first two days, crews recovered three bodies from the water. But a fourth person believed to have been in the car is still missing.

About 30 rescue crews have clocked more than 1,400 hours in the field after the crash.

Some got paid for their work, but most have donated their time to help bring closure to the family.

Inside the Winona County Sheriff's Command Center sits Ray Sylvester, president of the Winona County Search Operations Assistance and Rescue (SOAR).

"We've never met this missing person, but we're here for him. We're gonna stay here working as long as we can," Sylvester said.

So far he's worked for five days, without pay, to help find that missing person.

"It's a feeling that you're doing something good for your fellow man," he said.

The Rice County Dive Team traveled two hours to lend a hand.

"They're taking the Sonar head and they'll move it between the ice holes that we augured with the ice auger down there," said Rice County Dive Team Leader Todd Rost.

Rost said his team is helping by using their Sonar, a piece of equipment Winona County doesn't have.

"It's shooting out a sound beam and these different bumps and highlights are things that the sound is bouncing back off of and coming back to the Sonar head," he said.

Then the people monitoring the screens can see a sort-of 2D picture of what's underwater, Rost explained.

When asked about missing a day's work back in Rice County, Rost replied, "We're here to help and it's our pleasure to come and do that. So it's worth the sacrifice for us to come down here."

The Rice County team will be out searching until sunset, as will Winona County's.

Some are missing family time; others are not running their daily errands.

"You always have that honey-do list you got to get done. But all that stuff can wait," Sylvester said.

For these volunteers, the greatest reward is helping family get some closure.

Since the crash, Andrew Kingsbury's family has come to the river's edge often to show support for the rescue volunteers.

Kingsbury is the 29-year-old still missing.

News 19 spoke to his family Sunday. They said they're overwhelmed by the support of volunteers and the response team.

"(We) make sure they're taken care of also. They have food and they're warm, hot chocolate, coffee, water, all that stuff. Without them we can't find Andrew. So, they're helping us out big time right now," said Chad Kingsbury, Andrew's brother.

To help the teams brave the cold, the Kingsbury family and Winona Hy-Vee Grocery stores have been supplying meals for the responders.

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