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‘We Lost One Of Our Brothers': College Athlete From Blaine Dies While Rafting

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Friends, family and teammates are mourning the loss of a college baseball player.

On Tuesday, the body of 23-year-old Dan Buehner was recovered from the Sheyenne River in Valley City, N.D. Buehner, who grew up in Blaine, was a senior at Valley City State University and a captain on the baseball team.

“It’s a brotherhood. We lost one of our brothers the other day and it’s hit us hard,” said teammate Kayle Hamre.

By all accounts, Buehner was a stand-out baseball player and a stand-out person. But on Monday morning, while rafting on the Sheyenne River with two of his friends, the raft capsized after going over a small dam. His friends were rescued, but Buehner was nowhere to be found.

“As time went by it started to sink in that Dan was gone,” college coach Casey Olney said.

A dam was closed to lower the water level, and searchers walked shoulder to shoulder looking for the 23-year-old. After nearly a day of searching, Buehner’s body was found just downstream from where he capsized.

“It’s as if you’ve lost a family member. These guys spend so much time together,” Olney said.

Olney said Buehner’s work ethic and leadership was unmatched. A 2009 graduate of Centennial High School, he was an all-conference catcher and his team placed third at State.

His high school coach was his dad, Lynn Buehner, who played in the Twins organization in the 1970s. Olney said Buehner’s relationship with his father gave him an advantage.

“I know he always worked hard and he always wanted to make his dad proud and I’m sure he did that,” Olney said.

Buehner lived a baseball life. And his friends and teammates are learning that a loss on the field, doesn’t nearly compare, to the heartache of losing a friend.

“We don’t know why it happened. We lost a great guy, a great teammate and an even better friend,” said Hamre.

Olney said he would almost always arrive at the field before anyone else. He was majoring in business administration and wanted to work in human resources when he graduated.

Valley State University cancelled a couple games this week, but will resume playing on Saturday. There will be a moment of silence at their next home game and Wednesday night there will be a gathering of remembrance on campus.

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