Updated by Michael Crowe, Multimedia Journalist - email
WINNESHIEK COUNTY (KWWL) -
Officials announced they have found the body of a 29-year-old Decorah man that was presumed drowned in the Upper Iowa River.
The body of Eric Langland, 29, of Decorah, was located at 6:45 a.m. Wednesday about 3/4ths of a mile downstream from the Upper Dam, where he was last seen struggling in the water around 9 p.m. Saturday.
Members of the Decorah Fire Department located his body, officials said.
Langland and a friend were swimming, a popular activity at that spot. The friend saw Langland pulled under by the water coming over the dam. He then called 911.
"The young man that was with the victim was very emotional," said Tim Felton, a Winneshiek County Sheriff's Deputy. "He saw his friend go in swimming and then go down. Because of his emotional state, we did get him home to family members. I gave him a ride home so he could be with his family."
Rescuers said they had been impeded in their search by the strong current and lack of boat launches with access to the spot.
"We've deemed the area dangerous for our personnel because of the conditions of the water coming off the old dam," said Mike Ashbacher, Decorah Fire Chief. "We just believe right now that it's a dangerous situation for our personnel to be in."
Ashbacher also said that while the dam is a popular swimming spot, it's likely dangerous in any conditions.
"I do think this is an unsafe area," he said. "If you look out into the water and see the turbulent current that comes off that dam, it's just so unpredictable. I think it'd be very safe to say that people should not swim in this area."
The discovery follows two drownings on the Iowa River near Iowa City and the Cedar River near Cedar Falls last week, in which two men drowned.
The search was assisted by the Winneshiek County Sheriff's Office, the Decorah Fire Department, Winneshiek County Ambulance, the Iowa State Patrol and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
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