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Body found in river identified as missing Onalaska boater

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Police have identified the body pulled from the Mississippi River Friday morning in downtown La Crosse as that of an Onalaska man missing since November.

27-year-old Joshua Xiong was reported missing Nov. 9 when he did not return from a fishing trip at Lock and Dam No. 7. A life jacket and gas tank were found near the dam and a boat about one mile downstream. The boat had sustained significant damage.

A Logistics Health Inc. employee reported seeing what looked like a body floating in the river near the Riverside Center campus about 8 a.m.

Members of the La Crosse Fire Department and the county’s Dive Rescue team searched the icy water south of Riverside Park and pulled a body from the water about half an hour later.

An autopsy is scheduled for today. La Crosse police are investigating the death along with the La Crosse County medical examiner and Winona County Sheriff’s Department.

Xiong left behind a girlfriend and two children.

A message on his Facebook memorial page Friday read: “Thank god we can now put our sweet angel to rest. Thank you for all the prayers and support. It means the world to our family. The search is over and we can now try to heal.”

Winona County authorities searched the river daily until January, when frozen waters forced them to suspend the search.

Former Sheriff Dave Brand, who led the search efforts and is now a liaison with the department’s dive team, said the search was set to resume Friday with a State Patrol helicopter.

“I think somebody helped us out,” Brand said after he and current Sheriff Ron Ganrude traveled to La Crosse to help identify Xiong’s body.

“It bothered me all through the holidays that we didn’t find him,” Brand said. “It’s a sad day but it’s a good day that we can make a proper Christian burial.”

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