CENTERVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) – A 31-year-old man’s body was recovered from Centerville Lake on Monday afternoon.

Thai Vang was last seen trying to swim through weeds after his canoe capsized on Sunday.

Authorities were first called to the area around 6:30 a.m. Sunday. The area where Vang went under is very murky and weedy, making the recovery difficult.

“You’re out here on a small lake; you figure you’re safe and something like that couldn’t happen,” said Gary Corr, who lives on Centerville Lake.

Corr was one of the first to hear the cries for help early Sunday morning. He saw a man in the water and jumped in his boat to help.

“I came blasting across to where it was at. I could see the person with a canoe. It was upside down,” said Corr.

Corr and other boaters pulled one person to safety, but realized one more was still in the water.

“We were trying to dive down. We thought we seen something, but it was part of the canoe,” said Corr.

Neither was wearing a life jacket, an all too common occurrence when rescue becomes a recovery.

“Unfortunately, this is what can potentially happen when life jackets aren’t worn,” said Det. Justin Bloch, of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

DNR records show there were 58 non-boating drownings and boating deaths from spring until mid-fall of 2011.

This year, in the month of June, WCCO has reported on nine drownings, two of which happened last week.

On Friday, 17-year-old Jason Lewis went under in Lake O’Dowd. Thursday, 20-year-old Kennedy Maddox never resurfaced after jumping off a boat in Lake Minnetonka.

For Corr, the relief of the one rescue is overshadowed by the one loss.

“With the person you can’t save, you feel helpless and senseless it happened,” he said.

Law enforcement officials advise people to wear life preservers even if they know how to swim.

Corr was told by the man he rescued that the two lost balance in the canoe and fell over. Corr was also told the victim was trying to swim to shore.

Vang’s family stood in vigil at the lake until his body was recovered. The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy.

You can donate to Thai Vang’s benefit fund at any Wells Fargo bank.


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