On June 9, at about 4:24 p.m. the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Department received a report from Lock and Dam 4 on the Mississippi River, that a boat had gone through the dam and the boat and occupant were under the water. A short time later the boat had come to the surface with the operator missing. Rescuers were dispatched to the scene to search for the missing operator. It was later discovered that the operator was found in the lock and dam roller gate.
The victim, John R. Amundson, 49, of Winona, reported that he and his two dogs were boating near Harry’s Island, just north of the lock and dam and had motor trouble. Amundson reported that he tried to paddle his boat but was unsuccessful in the current which pulled him into the dam. He stated that he put on a life jacket and held on to a seat cushion as he went over the dam and into the water. Amundson reported that his boat capsized and he went under the water at the dam. He later floated to the surface near the roller gate of the dam where he held on. Amundson was able to climb up the wall of the dam to safety. Amundson, lock and dam staff and a warden from the Wisconsin DNR also rescued his two dogs.
Assisting the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Department were the Alma Fire Department, Scenic Valley Ambulance, Wabasha County Boat Patrol, Winona County Dive Rescue, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
This is the second missing boater case that the sheriff’s department has handled in one week. Boaters should use caution with the current high water and fast currents on the Mississippi River.