By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Search crews were busy at Lake Pepin near Bay City, Wisconsin on Sunday. That’s where a 38-year-old man fell out of his boat Saturday afternoon.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s office says the man was with his wife at the time.

Rick Peterson of Welch Village saw sheriff’s deputies towing the man’s boat into shore.

“It’s terrible. Our hearts go out to the family and friends. It’s a sad day for all of us. We don’t even know him but all of us last night were like, ‘this is terrible,’” said Peterson.

Authorities said the 38-year-old man is from the Bay City area and wasn’t wearing a life jacket when he fell into the water around 4:15 p.m. Saturday afternoon. His wife jumped in to try and save him. She told authorities she saw him go under water and then she swam to shore to get help. But the water and wind have made the search difficult for rescuers.

“We won’t be able to see our hands in front of our faces. It’s windy, there’s a current out there, the wind is blowing one direction and the current is going in the other direction,” said Capt. Dave Kidd of the Pierce County Dive Team.

Even so, they searched until dark Saturday night and then resumed searching early Sunday morning. The search area is about a square mile. And authorities are using under water sonar as they look for the man in about 10 to 15 feet of water.

But they say at this point this is more like a recovery than a rescue. With white cap conditions and low visibility, their goal now is to give the man’s wife and family some closure.

“It’s very difficult. The family wants to see closure and our attempt is to get out and recover him so the family does have closure,” said Brad Verges, a Recreational Safety Patrol Officer.

At this point, they aren’t sure if alcohol was a factor.

The man’s name is being withheld because not all of his family members have been notified.

The search was suspended Sunday night due to high winds and choppy waters. The search will resume Monday morning.

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