NEW INFORMATION: Missing man appears to have jumped into river

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Police now say the man who was witnessed falling from a bridge into the Chippewa River appears to have intentionally jumped into the river on Saturday.

On Monday, Eau Claire Police identified the man as Paul Trimmer, 52, of Eau Claire. Officers say their investigation into the missing person case is ongoing.

The Eau Claire Fire Department plans to search the river again on Monday.

If you have any information, call the Eau Claire Police Department Detective Division at (715) 839-4978.


NEWS RELEASE-The Eau Claire Police Department is currently investigating a missing person case. The missing person is identified as:
Paul C. Trimmer
52 years old
Eau Claire Resident
The investigation indicates that Mr. Trimmer is the individual who was witnessed falling from the railroad trestle bridge into the Chippewa River on Saturday, March 24, 2012. At this point in the investigation it appears that Mr. Trimmer intentionally jumped into the river.
This investigation is ongoing and the Eau Claire Police Department is asking anyone with information to contact the Detective Division at 715-839-4978.
Eau Claire Fire Department personnel have conducted a search of the river and will conduct an additional search today.


Story from Sunday:

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Eau Claire Fire & Rescue says the search ended around 4:00 p.m. Sunday for a man who went into the Chippewa River.

Witnesses say the man fell in from an old railroad bridge north of downtown Eau Claire.

Crews say they will decide Monday morning whether they are going to continue search for the person.

Police say they don't know yet if the fall was accidental or intentional.


EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The search was back on Sunday for a man who went into the Chippewa River from an old railroad bridge north of downtown Eau Claire.

In the second day of the search, crews from Eau Claire Fire and Rescue had to battle dangerous waters.

After calling off their search around 7 p.m. Saturday, crews were back on the water Sunday morning.

“Along with sonar to check an area of the river the person may be, along with downriver from there,” said Battalion Chief Al Bertrang.

The search effort was launched Saturday around 3 p.m., when a fisherman called police after he said he saw a man walking alone on the bridge and jump or fall into the river.

Battalion Chief Al Bertrang said searching so close to the Dells Dam at this time of year is dangerous.

“Right now the water is high, the current is swifter than normal, so there is an aspect of danger to working on the river,” Bertrang said.

And because of that, he said they’re handling the search very carefully.

“Use all the safety precautions that we can. Do the job, but do it safely,” Bertrang said.

The battalion chief said the operation has taken some of the department’s resources, including moving more than a dozen workers onto the search effort.

“Whoever we have on the river we don't have to respond as we normally would. We do have to make some adjustments in our operations,” Bertrang said.

He said it’s not yet known when the search will be called off.

The Eau Claire Police Department said investigators found a cell phone and other personal items on top of the bridge, clues that could lead them to the identity of the victim.

Officers said no foul play is suspected.

They said the bridge is owned by the city of Eau Claire and is out of use as a railroad bridge.

There is a tall chain link fence and warning sign that blocks people from getting onto the bridge.

The victim has not yet been identified.


The ECFD responded to a report of a person in the water behind the City Shops.

Upon arrival the area was investigated and the victim was not sighted in the water.

A witness was interviewed and he indicated an area where he saw the person in the water.

Three Fire Department personnel in Water rescue suits entered the water with an inflatable rescue craft.

They entered upriver from the incident location due to the high flow of water and floated down river to the search area.

The high flow of water from the spring runoff complicated the search procedures.

Simultaneously two Fire Department boats were launched from down river.

They initiated a search pattern up to the area of interest.

The natural structure of the river prevented the boats from reaching the initial search area.

The search was called off at 19:00 hrs.

The victim was not located.

The search will resume the next day sometime in the morning.



On March 24th, 2012 at 3:12 PM units from the Eau Claire Police Department and Eau Claire Fire Department responded to the railroad trestle bridge which connects the 2400 block of 1st street and Plainwell Tissue.

A fisherman reported that a male subject had fallen into the water. He further reported that no one else was on the bridge with him at the time.

There is no foul play suspected. It has not been determined whether the fall was intentional or accidental. The ongoing investigation is further focused on the subject’s identity.

A fire department boat search was initiated immediately.

As of 6:15 P.M. the body has not been recovered.


EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Rescue crews are on the Chippewa River Saturday, in search of a person.

Witnesses say the person went into the water from the top of an old railroad bridge, north of downtown Eau Claire.

It happened just after 3 p.m.

Two boats and divers from Eau Claire Fire and Rescue are searching the stretch of the river between the Madison Street Bridge and the Dells Dam.

An eye witness says he was fishing near the Eau Claire bus garage when he saw a person walking on the bridge and jump or fall into the river.

Eau Claire Police say the found several personal items on top of the bridge, but it hasn't been enough to identify the victim.

There's no word yet if it was accidental or not.

Officers say the bridge is owned by the city and there are fences in place.