Wayzata man drowns in Temperance River

Rhonda Silence

The beautiful, but scenic Temperance River has claimed the life of a young Wayzata man. Alec Paul Bertil Lawrenz, 18, of Wayzata, Minnesota, was swimming in the Temperance River, on the lower side of Highway 61, on June 11 when he went through the strong current under a bridge and did not resurface. His body was recovered at approximately 1:42 p.m. on June 13.

The Cook County Sheriff ’s Office received a 9-1-1 call at 6:34 p.m. on June 11, reporting that “a kid fell into the gorge at Temperance River State Park.” On arrival, emergency responders learned that Lawrenz, who was camping with a group of friends at Temperance River State Park, was swimming when he disappeared in the river.

Search efforts lasted until dark on June 11 and continued on June 12 and again on June 13.

Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen explained that efforts to recover the body were hampered by the strong river current, limited visibility under the water and the presence of debris. Sheriff Eliasen said the river bottom in this area ranges from 3-10 feet in depth and there are trees, rocks and concrete containing remnant of re-bar making any dragging efforts problematic. Weather and the subsequent rising of water levels in the river also impeded recovery efforts.

Use of divers was not possible due to the dangerous conditions of current and debris. The young man’s body was found south of the last waterfall in approximately 6 feet of water by St. Louis County Search and Rescue using an underwater camera.

Agencies involved in the search efforts were Cook County Sheriff ’s Office, Minnesota State Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard, Minnesota State Park, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Border Patrol, Tofte First Responders, and the Cook County Ambulance and Cook County Search and Rescue. Cook County Search and Rescue was assisted by Itasca County Search and Rescue, as well as St. Louis County Search and Rescue.

The matter is under investigation, but no foul play is suspected.

Lawrenz had recently graduated from Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School in St. Louis Park, Minnesota where he was a member of the Ultimate Frisbee Golf team and the school newspaper.

There have been numerous drownings in Temperance River. On August 2, 2013, Pavel Shtrefleng of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, was swimming in a pool just below the bridge when, according to witnesses, he got caught in the current and was pulled under. On July 4, 2009, a 45-year-old man from Ramsey, Minnesota was swept away in the current while swimming. In 2008, two young women, 17 and 22, from Maple Grove, Minnesota perished after being swept away by the current in a popular wading spot further up the river. In 2001, a 22-year-old hiker from Finland, Minnesota died after falling in the river. In 2000, a 50-year-old Wisconsin man drowned while saving his 8-year-old son. Another father, 48, from Remer, Minnesota drowned while rescuing his 12-year-old daughter. In 1996, a 14-year-old boy from Crystal, Minnesota drowned after diving at one of Temperance’s waterfalls.

Click here for digital edition
2016-06-18 digital edition

Special sections:

Fisherman's Picnic 2017

Arts Festival 2017

Wooden Boat Show 2017

Meet the Class of 2017

Spring Home Improvement


Copyright 2009-2018 Cook County News Herald, All Rights Reserved