NEW INFORMATION: Police release name of missing canoeist

By: Megan Lowry , Nikki Junewicz, Andrew Fefer Email
By: Megan Lowry , Nikki Junewicz, Andrew Fefer Email
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. Altoona Police say the body of 21 year-old Karter Riley Fitzgerald from Wausau was found Saturday afternoon.

Chief Jesse James says around 1:00pm a fisherman found the body in the Eau Claire River between the railroad bridge and Business 53/Hastings Way Bridge. He says at the same time the Mayo One Helicopter was returning from a flight and observed an object in the water. Township Fire and Rescue took a boat out and recovered the body. Karter was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital for an autopsy.

Police says Karter and a friend were canoeing down the Eau Claire River Thursday night. Police say the canoe tipped when they got too close to the Altoona Dam.

His friend was able to swim to shore and was not hurt.
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Altoona Police say the body of a missing canoeist was found around 1pm Saturday afternoon. The man's name is not being released at this time.

Assistant Chief Jason Knecht says the body was found near the Golf and Country Club. He says a fisherman called in saying he found a body. At the same time, Knecht says Mayo One was also flying over the area and spotted what looked like a body.

Crews had been searching since Thursday night. Police say two men were out on a canoe heading east up the Eau Claire River, when they got too close to the dam and tipped over.

One of the men was able to swim to shore and is okay.

We will have more information as it becomes available.

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The Eau Claire County Parks & Forest Department announces that the water level at Lake Altoona will be lowered in order to assist rescue officials searching for a missing canoeist below Altoona Dam. It is unknown when water levels will be back to normal summer elevation of 801.7 feet.
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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) --The search for a missing man near the base of the Altoona Dam has been called off, but will continue in other areas.

Altoona Fire and Rescue made the announcement around noon Friday. It says crews will continue the search further down the river. The water level in the area of the dam is rising, making it unsafe for searchers. Crews say they have searched the area at the base of the dam fully before stopping.

Stay with WEAU 13 News and WEAU.com for updates as the story develops.
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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) --Altoona Public Safety Director Jesse James says searchers were still looking for the man as of about 9 a.m. Friday. He says there are nearly 24 searchers at the scene, including officers from the Altoona Police Department, and crews from the Township Fire Department.
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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) --Emergency responders spent most of Thursday evening searching for a man in the Eau Claire River after a canoe overturned near Altoona Dam. According to Township Fire, those responders are back on the water as of Friday morning.

Kerry Parker, with Township Fire, says crews had to open the gates on the dam Friday morning to let more water out from the search area. He told us that will help make for a safer search.

Parker says about 15 responders are at the site, using two boats to search for the missing person.

The initial call came in around 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Altoona Assistant Fire Chief Jason Knecht says two men were out on a canoe heading east up the Eau Claire River, when they got too close to the dam and tipped over.

One of the men, who is in his early twenties, was able to swim to shore and is okay.

Steve Anderson, a witness to the event, says the men got into the canoe near the dam's spillway. He says the men were not wearing life jackets but did see life jackets surface after the canoe tipped over.

He says the man who was able to swim to shore surfaced from the water about 100 yards away from where the canoe originally tipped over.

Altoona Fire and Rescue, Altoona Police, Township Fire, and Eau Claire Fire were all on the scene looking for the missing man.

They were using sonar equipment and boats to find him. Knecht says the next step would be to use divers, but because the current is so strong, that is very dangerous.

The boats were tethered to the shore so they did not get stuck in the vortex. The Wisconsin DNR shut off the gates of the dam while crews conducted the search. One of the gates was turned on around 9:45 p.m. Knecht says there were concerns about Lake Altoona filling up with the gates closed.

The search will continue at 7:00 a.m. on Friday. We will continue to follow this developing story and bring you any new details in our Friday newscasts and on WEAU.com.

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Emergency responders are searching for a missing man in the Eau Claire River in Altoona below the dam, near 2100 East Wilson Drive.

Altoona Assistant Fire Chief Jason Cnecht says two men were out on a canoe heading east up the river, when they got too close to the dam and tipped over.

One of the men, who is in his early twenties, was able to swim to shore and is okay.

Emergency crews are still searching for the other man.

Altoona Fire and Rescue, Altoona Police, Township Fire, and Eau Claire Fire are all on the scene looking.

They are using sonar equipment and boats to find him. The next step is to use divers, but because the current is so strong, that is very dangerous.

The boats are tethered to the shore so they do not get stuck in the vortex. The Wisconsin DNR has shut off the gates of the dam while crews look, but say they will have to re-open them at around at 9:15pm or else the river will get too full.

The initial call came in at around 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

We have a crew on the scene and will bring you the very latest as it becomes available.


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