MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An 11-year-old boy who was rescued from the rushing St. Croix River over the weekend is very thankful to be alive as crews continue to search for his uncle.
The boy slipped and fell into the water in Taylors Falls, while he and his uncle, 21-year-old Tou Hu Vang of Coon Rapids, were fishing. Vang jumped in after him but never resurfaced.
“Once I got to a place that was calm, I was trying to float on my back so I wouldn’t sink and I just take deep breaths and don’t struggle because if I struggle, I might just drown,” Calvin Vang said. “I just did that until someone came and got me.”
A Good Samaritan stepped in and saved the boy.
That person was identified Monday as Kenphenyeehu Hawj. Authorities said both Hawj and Calvin will be OK. But the search continues for Calvin’s uncle. At this point, authorities said it’s a recovery effort and not a rescue.
The Chisago County Sheriff’s Office said the waters of the St. Croix River are moving three times faster than normal because of the recent rain and snow melt. People are advised to stay clear of the water due to the dangerous conditions.
Rescuers in boats and divers have been trying to find Vang since Sunday. The search was called off around 6 p.m. Monday and resumed around 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Though after a round of rain, the water is even higher, meaning crews have had to adapt and adjust the search.
The high current means it’s too dangerous for divers to enter the water and using nets to drag along the bottom of the river is ineffective.
Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan said it’s still an active search but they just have to make sure their crews are safe above all else.
Vang’s family is also helping with the recovery effort. They tell us Vang is engaged to be married in September and had just completed his first semester at Anoka Community College. Calvin said his uncle is an experienced fisherman and loved the outdoors.
The Chisago County Sheriff’s said when someone falls in, even if the current is fast on the top of the water, the bottom is not moving as fast. He said crews are confident they are searching in the right area of the water, which is about a couple of blocks in length around where Vang jumped in.
After some time, they may expand the search area, but authorities said they will keep searching until they find Vang.