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NEW INFORMATION: Rodgers family thanks UW-Eau Claire community for support

By: WEAU Staff Email
By: WEAU Staff Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (UW-EAU CLAIRE NEWS RELEASE) - Below is a statement from David’s family to the UW-Eau Claire community.

To the UWEC Family,

As we mourn the loss of our son we take comfort in knowing that the last years of his life were spent in a place that he enjoyed. The faculty, administration, and students at the University of Wisconsin –Eau Claire were extremely kind to David and helpful in his development. Sometimes a life’s journey, whether short or long, isn’t measured by the duration but by the special people you meet along the way. David was blessed to have met so many special people. Although his life was brief and his time at UWEC also brief we take comfort knowing that David was a better person because of the special people who welcomed him into the UWEC family. Thank you for your support, your prayers and your thoughts.

--The Rodgers Family
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis (WEAU)--There's still no end to the search for the missing UW-Eau Claire student who rescuers believe drowned in the Chippewa River Friday night.

Crews were out on the river again Monday afternoon looking for the body of 20-year-old David Patrick Rodgers of Northfield, Minnesota. Police say Rodgers disappeared from his dorm room on Friday and matches the description of the person witnesses say fell into the river from the campus footbridge.

A search like this is never easy on rescuers, but they say it's what they train for.

"The game plan is situational depending on the weather, the body of water we are working on and the information that we have,” Eau Claire Fire Battalion Chief Bryon Benson said. “In this case, we have a fairly reliable report if where the person was last seen in the water.”

On Friday night, the water in the Chippewa River was only 40 degrees, Benson said that gave rescuers only around a 20 minute window to find Rodgers.

"The night of the incident there was debris and logs flowing down the river, ice chunks flowing down the river," Benson said.

Crews were forced to call off the search around midnight for safety concerns returning to the river Saturday morning.

Then Benson said again on Sunday they were forced to call off the search due to weather.

"What’s hampering us this time is the flow of the water," Benson said. He adds, “Right now, we are checking the banks mostly because of what we call the strainer affect. When the river has a high flow and the river is above its banks.”

Benson said crews scoured the banks for 2-3 hours using sonar and underwater cameras.

On Monday, Eau Claire rescuers were joined by searchers from Black River Falls.

“He could show up today in the search and there are instances where we've never recovered a body,” Benson said.

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Fire crews suspended search early on Sunday for a missing UW-Eau Claire student who they believe drowned in the Chippewa River.

They're looking for the body of 20-year-old David Patrick Rodgers of Northfield, Minnesota.

Police say he went missing from his residence hall on Friday and his description matches the person witnesses say fell into the river from the campus footbridge.

With Sunday’s snowy and windy conditions, we’re told the currents were just too dangerous for crews to search the waters in Eau Claire.
The rescue effort first began Friday night before it turned into a recovery.

The search continues Monday.

STATEMENT FROM UW-EAU CLAIRE DEAN OF STUDENTS OFFICE:

At approximately 10:45 pm on April 19, 2013, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Police Department responded to an emergency call regarding a male individual who fell into the Chippewa River from the university footbridge. As part of the investigation, police discovered a student was missing from his on-campus residence hall. Witnesses on the footbridge who saw the male subject provided information that match the description of the missing student. Attempts to locate the missing student have thus far been unsuccessful. The missing student is David Patrick Rodgers from Northfield, Minnesota. Rodgers, 20, is described as Caucasian, 5’10”, 168 pounds, with brown eyes and was last seen wearing khaki pants and a white t-shirt that reads “No Obama” on the front. Rodgers’ family has been contacted and has asked that members of the media refrain from contacting them for statements. Anyone with additional information regarding Rodgers’ whereabouts or the identify of the individual who fell from the footbridge is urged to call UW-Eau Claire Police Department at (715) 836-2222. All questions regarding the investigation should also be referred to the UW-Eau Claire Police Department.

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Water Rescue operations are resumed this morning after a male college-age suspect fell off the footbridge on UW Eau Claire campus late Friday night.

UW Eau Claire Police say they received a call around 10:44 pm from several witnesses on a male who slid off the bridge railing. Eau Claire Police and Fire and Rescue were also present at the scene. The search was called off around midnight due to high waters.

Search along the river was resumed Saturday morning around 9 a.m. The male has not been identified. The case is under investigation.


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