BODY FOUND: Missing elderly Stockton canoeist's body recovered - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

BODY FOUND: Missing elderly Stockton canoeist's body recovered

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WINONA, Minn. (AP) - Authorities have found the body of a man who fell from a canoe into the backwaters of the Mississippi River near Winona.

The Winona Daily News reports that 88-year-old Robert Lester Duncanson, of Stockton, was found about 50 feet from where his canoe tipped. Crews used long poles with hooks to catch hold of him by his clothing.

Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand says Duncanson was fishing alone near the Prairie Island spillway around 11 a.m. Friday when he got too close to the churning water.

A group of men saw him struggling but could not reach him before he went under. Jake Shelter, who tried to save him, says Duncanson was an avid angler who regularly fished the area and knew the backwaters well.
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WINONA, Minn. (AP) - Authorities have resumed the search for a man who fell from a canoe into the backwaters of the Mississippi River near Winona.

Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand identifies the victim as 88-year-old Robert Lester Duncanson, of Stockton.

KAGE-AM reports that Brand says Duncanson was fishing alone near the Prairie Island spillway around 11 a.m. Friday when he got too close to the churning water, which caused the canoe to flip over and Duncanson to fall into the water.

Brand says no one witnessed the incident but a deputy saw the canoe in the water shortly afterward. The canoe and the man's life jacket and fishing gear were recovered.

Safety officials warn that many rivers and lakes are running high because of recent heavy rains.

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WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) -- An elderly man from Stockton apparently drowned in the Mississippi River after his canoe capsized Friday morning.

The 88-year-old man, whose identity has not been released, is an experienced fisherman.  But officials say he was fishing in dangerous waters. Winona Fire Chief Curt Bittle said that the canoeist fell into the Mississippi River near the Prairie Island spillway about 11 a.m. Friday.

The fire chief said the water depth in the area is about five to seven feet with pockets about 40 to 60 feet. 

"It looked like he was right up against the spillway, trying to get a grip on it," said a witness named Jake, who declined to be fully identified because of his religious beliefs.  Jake said he watched as a man he knew from fishing the same waters became trapped in a rip current, clinging onto a log.

"My son said, 'if you look real close, you can see the paddles,' and sure enough, we could see the paddles coming up. It looked to me like he had them in his hands," Jake said.  Jake said he quickly put a boat in the water and tried to help, but the current was too strong.

"We got as close as we dared," he said, pointing to a large log resting on the spillway. "Almost to that log."

Rescue specialists and officials with the Winona Dive Rescue Team, Winona Fire Department, Goodview Fire Department, Winona County Sheriff's Office and Winona Police Department responded to the scene in minutes, but what started as a search effort became a recovery effort.  First responders began combing the riverbed with drag bars in an effort to find the man's body.

"We believe he's still in the waterway where he went in because of the swirling motion right there by the spillway," said Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand.  The man's battered canoe and oars were found downstream.  The Winona County Sheriff's Office says fishing near the spillway was far too dangerous.

"He was close to the spillway, which is probably too close. He is a good swimmer, he did not have a lifejacket on," said Sheriff Brand.

The man who witnessed what happened, Jake, said the older man went fishing almost every day and would spend weeks camping alone near Prairie Island.  But Jake says the way this outdoorsman died was reflective of how he lived.  "He's the type that would say, if I have to die, I'd want to die in the river."

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WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) -- At least five boats are searching for a man whose canoe capsized on the Mississippi River in Winona.

Winona Fire Chief Curt Bittle told our reporter at the scene that the canoeist fell into the Mississippi River near the Prairie Island spillway about 11:30 a.m. Friday.

Bittle said the water depth in the area is about five to seven feet with pockets 40 to 60 feet. The canoeist is between 70 and 80 years old and divers have recovered his canoe. A witness told our reporter at the scene that the canoeist attempted to hang onto a tree when the canoe tipped.

Crews with the Winona Dive Rescue Team, Winona Fire Department, Goodview Fire Department, Winona County Sheriff's Office and Winona Police Department are at the scene.

As of 1:50 p.m., rescue crews are still searching for the canoeist.
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WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) -- Authorities in Winona are responding to a report of a capsized canoe on the Mississippi River.

The Winona County Sheriff's Office responded about 11 a.m. Friday to the spillway above Prairie Island Campground.

We'll bring you more information as it becomes available on WXOW.com and on Live at Five.

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