CALEDONIA, Wis. (WFRV) – Two people died after drowning near a sandbar in the Wisconsin River on Thursday afternoon.
According to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, deputies received a 911 call shortly after 3:45 p.m. on August 3 for a report of two people that had gone underwater and not resurfaced.
As responders arrived, several good Samaritans were using personal boats to shuttle them to the area.
Deputies say the subjects were not immediately located, and the rescue became a recovery effort. The dive team searched the area where the subjects were last seen and discovered the body of one of the missing swimmers, a 25-year-old man. The search for the second swimmer was eventually suspended Thursday night due to darkness.
The recovery effort picked right back up on Friday morning with the assistance of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) used by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The body of the second swimmer, a 24-year-old man, was located by the ROV and recovered by the Columbia County Dive Team. Both men were found in about 17 feet of water.
Through interviews with witnesses, investigators learned that a group of adults were enjoying the water from a nearby sandbar when one of the adults was overcome in the water. Several party members attempted to assist the man, but a second man was also overwhelmed.
Both men went underwater and never resurfaced. Authorities say this incident is tragic, and no foul play is involved.
“The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office would like to offer thanks to all the citizens that offered watercraft to assist in the search and to all the volunteer divers from the Dive Team for their dedication to provide an extremely important service to the citizens of Columbia County,” said Sheriff Roger Brandner. “Thank you to J&J Fireball Lanes and Festival Foods in Portage for supplying food and water for the first responders. Your commitment to the community and support [is] so appreciated.”
The names of the two drowning victims will reportedly not be released at this time, pending notification of their families.
No additional details were provided.