SUPERIOR, Wis. -- Divers recovered the body of a 6-year-old Duluth boy Wednesday evening, June 3, after an extensive search.
Law enforcement and first responders had searched the waters of Lake Superior at the mouth of the Middle River in Douglas County for the missing boy, who had been playing in the water with his family when he disappeared.
Lakeside Fire Chief Nova Nordrum said first responders were called to the scene at 1:39 p.m. stating that two children were in the water. At 1:46 p.m. a 9-year-old girl had been pulled from the water and revived on the shore. The boy was still missing.
By 3 p.m., members of the Lakeside, Maple and Amnicon volunteer fire departments were walking an arm's-length apart through the water. Farther out, boats from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Coast Guard, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office and Superior Police Department searched deeper water. A Lifelink helicopter made a number of passes over the scene. A Mayo Clinic Ambulance crew was parked along the road.
The challenge for searchers was the water itself, Nordrum said, because of the current, lack of clarity and obstacles. The water was warm but the footing could be treacherous, she said, and a riptide runs along the entire shore. She asked people to pray for the family and to keep them in their thoughts.
As the afternoon progressed, the DNR deployed a remotely controlled underwater camera; deputies said a Coast Guard helicopter was en route from Michigan. Shortly after 5 p.m., the Douglas County Incident Command vehicle made its way down Middle River Road.
Boats from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, the Wisconsin DNR and the US Coast Guard searched the area and located a target using side scan sonar. Divers recovered the boy in seven feet of water at 6:59 p.m. Authorities did not identify the victim Wednesday night.
Bonnie Fudally of Wentworth stopped at the scene to drop off two life jackets for the first responders. She had been fishing at the Amnicon River Boat Landing when she saw the law enforcement boats launch.
“I feel for the family,” she said. “I have grandkids that age.”
Alice Saari of Maple was on her way to the beach at the mouth of the Middle River with her daughter, Pamela Nelson, and grandchildren when she saw the Lifelink helicopter overhead.
“So sad,” Saari said.
They had taken the kids swimming at the beach a few days earlier.
“I feel for them right now,” Nelson said of the family
Travis Ulrich, pastor of Lakeside Baptist Church, drove down to offer prayer and support as the search continued.
The Douglas County sheriff’s and medical examiner’s offices are conducting an investigation.
In April 2019, the body of 40-year-old Anthony Puckett Sr. was recovered from the mouth of the Middle River after he was missing for eight days.
Teri Cadeau of the Duluth News Tribune contributed to this report.