La Crosse police release report on near-drownings

La Crosse police release report on near-drownings

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La Crosse police release report on near-drownings

More than 20 people have fallen or jumped into area rivers since 1997 and survived, according to a La Crosse Police Department report released Friday.

Alcohol was involved in 15 of the 22 near-drownings, the report stated. Six people were suicidal; four of those also had been drinking, according to the report.

Non-Drowning River Incidents

Non-Drowning River Incidents

The city of La Crosse was again in the news following the recent and tragic drowning death of Craig Meyers. On 02-13-10, Meyers had attended a wedding reception and then went downtown with some friends and relatives. Meyer was dropped off at about 1:55 AM in the area of 7th and Market Sts. (He should have actually been dropped off in the 700 block of South 16th St.) He walked from that area and ended up downtown. Police found a single set of footprints in the snow going out onto the ice the next day. A tracking dog followed Meyer’s scent to those tracks out on to the river. His body was recovered two days later where the tracks ended. Meyer’s blood alcohol was .28%.

This represented the 9th drowning incident involving young men in the last thirteen years in La Crosse Area Rivers. Two of the nine drowning incidents were witnessed.

The real untold story that gets little or no coverage is that there have been over twenty other incidents of young people falling or jumping into the river and surviving over that same time frame. Alcohol was a major contributing factor in most of those incidents while some were suicide attempts and still others accidents.

1997:

The first survivor ironically lost his brother in the same incident. On July 12th at about bar time, two brothers were in downtown La Crosse and became involved in a fight situation. The two ran from the fight scene down to the river where the confrontation continued. Both brothers jumped in the river one survived, the other drowned. Police Case # 97-30991.

2001:

On 2-23-01 at about 12:01 AM, a college aged male subject entered the RADISSON Hotel. He was very intoxicated and soaking wet. He said he fell in the river. A cab was summoned to take him home. The police were also called. Subsequent investigation showed he had walked out on the river alone leaving a single set of footprints in the snow. He broke through the ice but was able to pull himself out. He then walked to the Radisson hotel to ask for help. He said he was alone and footprints in the snow coming and going to the hole in the ice support that fact. 01-9117

2005:

On 2-21-05 at about 3 AM, a male subject showed up at Bethany Hearten House II 2571 South 7th St. seeking help. He was intoxicated and soaking wet. He was picked up by a friend and the police were called. Officers checked the area and noted a single set of footprints in the new snow walking toward the river from some distance away. The tracks then go out on to the ice. There was a fresh hole in the ice and it was apparent the person got out and the single set of footprints led to the nursing home where fresh car tracks in the snow showed that a person got into a car before police arrived. The subject was contacted later and denied being intoxicated just confused when he left downtown and he ended up out on the river. 05-7332 _____________________________________________________________

On 04-16-05 at about 1:18 AM, a male subject entered Riverside Park and jumped into Mississippi River. CSE Alton was in the park at the time of the incident and observed the subject jump in the river. Officers were summoned to the park. He refused life rings that were thrown to him and counted from five down to zero then submerged himself under water. Officers arrived and took a boat tied at the levee to try and reach the man. The FD put a boat in as well and he was pulled from the water under the Cass St. Bridge. He was initially unresponsive and was taken to GLH for treatment. 05-15981

2006:

On 01-08-06, a male subject showed up at Lutheran Hospital soaking wet without a jacket or shoes. He was wet from the chest down. Investigation revealed subject was downtown drinking and got separated from his friends. He walked all the way down to Isle La Plume and fell into the river near the barge fleeting area. He did not completely submerge himself in the water. He was able to get out and made his way to Lutheran Hospital. He left his jacket with his cell phone in it at the scene. Those items were recovered by police. He said he was alone at the time and no one tried to harm him. 06-1133

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On 04-19-06 at 11:19 PM, a man was reported lying in the street at 5th and Market. He was soaking wet and it was learned that he fell in the river. The man was very intoxicated and said he had been down in Houska Park drinking and was not sure how he fell in the river but he got out. He did not know how he got to 5th and Market Sts. either but witnesses reported him walking/stumbling by himself and saw him fall in the street. Detox Hold. BAC .32% 06-17460 (This subject has been “detoxed” many times.)

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On 05-03-06 at 6:17 AM, a man reported he jumped from the Cass Street Bridge in a suicide attempt. He apparently changed his mind and officers are called to Houska Park for a male subject in the park with his pants down. They find him crawling on his hands and knees in the grass on the north end of the Park. He is soaking wet and tells officers he tried to commit suicide by jumping from the Cass Street Bridge. 06-19593

2007:

On 01-07-07 at 2:29 AM, Officers were dispatched to 30 Copeland Ave reference a female who had fallen in the river. Officers spoke with the subject and she said she got spooked and took off running. She didn’t know why she got spooked and did not think anyone was following her at the time. She thought it might be just because she was drunk. She ran out into the La Crosse River and ended up in open water. She got out and went to Festival Foods and the police were called. 07-1025

On 05-04-07 at 10:28 PM, Officers responded to Riverside Park on a report that a male subject was supposedly naked and going to jump in the river. Officers located clothing and a cell phone and eventually the subject in the water clinging to a rock 100 yards downstream. Officers went into the river and pulled the subject to safety on the shoreline. Subject was suicidal. 07-19429

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On 05-16-07 at 3:53 AM, Officers were dispatched to Riverside Park in regard to a subject who’d jumped in the river. River Watch staff reported the man ran through the park toward the river followed by a splash. Subject was spotted and refused to come out of river. He said he wanted to die. He refused the life ring multiple times. Officers coaxed him close enough to shore to jump in and grab him. It took multiple officers to bring him ashore. Subject was profane, combative and threatening toward officers. BAC.18% 07-21284

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On 06-29-07 at 9:13 PM, Officers were dispatched to a passed out male in the 1800 block of Farnam St. Subject was wet, highly intoxicated and had defecated in his pants. He refused to say how he got wet. He was taken into protective custody and to Detox. Once at the hospital, he told the nurse and officer’s he’d fallen in the river in Houska Park. He said he was in the water for just a short time and that he was alone at the time he fell into the river. BAC .36% 07-28843

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On 10-21-07 at 2:23 AM, Officers responded to a call from River Watch in regard to an intoxicated party who was highly agitated near the river in the park. Upon arrival the subject had already jumped into the river and was in water chest deep. He lost his footing and was swept away in the current. Officers threw him a life jacket and he grabbed it as he floated away. Subject threatened to let go of life jacket and drown self as the FD boat approached him. Eventually, fire personnel got a hold of him and pulled him to safety. Subject was very intoxicated. 07-48220.

2008:

On 03-21-08 at 12:48 AM, Officers responded to a River Watch call of a subject on the levee. Subject had mud on his boots, elbows and knees but denied being by or in the river. Subject thought he was in Winona, Mn. PBT .239%. Once at the hospital he admitted his plan was to jump in the river because his mom had cancer and he was having trouble dealing with it. He said he wanted to kill himself. 08-12580

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On 03-23-08 at 4:41 PM, Officers went to SFMC in regard to an intoxicated male who had been on the docks by the apt. bldg. at 403 Gillette St. The subject was very intoxicated and said he’d jumped in the river in an attempt to kill himself. 08-12965

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On 05-08-08 at 12:47 PM, Officers respond to 30 Copeland Ave. reference an intoxicated female that fell in the La Crosse River several times climbing out each time only to fall in again. Officers pulled her up the steep bank to safety. BAC .315%. 08-20370

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On 06-22-08 at 3:10 AM, Officers responded to a male subject jumping into the river in Riverside Park. River Watch Staff saw him jump in the water. He refused a throw safety ring. Subject pulled from river by police and fire personnel in a boat. He was yelling about “Black Ops” and said he jumped in the river to help his brother and to hide from police. He denied being suicidal. BAC .255% 08-28132

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On 06-22-08 at 5:33 PM, Officers and Fire personnel responded to a distressed swimmer in the water. Officers saw something bobbing in the water believed to be a person. The subject was pulled from the water by a citizen boater and taken to the levee in Riverside Park. The subject reported he tried to swim across the river from Pettibone Park on a dare and could not make it. He said he started taking on water and was struggling to stay above water. BAC .250% 08-28186

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On 6-27-08 at 11:09 PM, a female was in Riverside Park with a disabled jet- ski. She was trying to help secure it to the dock and she fell in the water. She was pulled from the river by police and fire personnel who had responded to the disabled jet-ski complaint. 08-28876

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On 07-02-08 at 7:04 PM, Officers responded to a near drowning in Pettibone Park at the Beach area. The subject was at the park using the beach and swimming area. He and another friend decided to swim out and touch the River Buoy channel marker. Subject said he became tired on the swim and panicked. He said he went under water but was able to push himself above the water pushing off of the river bottom with his feet. He ingested water but was able to yell for help. Witnesses went in and pulled him from the water. The man had not been drinking. 08-29866

2009:

On 04-04-09 at 5:47 AM, Officers respond to the Municipal Service Center, 1925 Marco Drive for a welfare check. They find a man there and note he is intoxicated and has urinated in his pants. His shoes and lower pants/socks were soaked. He said he was downtown drinking and had way too much to drink. He left downtown and went to a house party leaving the party on a bike. He was not sure how he ended up at the city Municipal Service Center but he did remember walking toward the river and then coming back to the service center. At some point, he must have entered the water due to the fact he was wet below the knees. He said he slept there for awhile and woke up not realizing where he was at the time. He had his cell phone and called 911. Officers found him at the service center. PBT .152% 09-14611

 

La Crosse Tribune: On 08-19-09, a story appeared in the Tribune in regard to a wedding groom pulling two people from the river that had fallen into the water in Riverside Park. The groom was in the park with his wedding party taking photos when he observed a man leaning over the levee wall into the water yelling a female’s name. The man then jumped into the water. The groom saw this and jumped the railing to help. He found the man treading water holding onto a young female who had apparently fallen in before he jumped in to help. The groom and another man pulled the two to safety preventing a possible tragedy.

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On 10-03-09 at 11:55 PM, Officers responded to a call of a woman who had just jumped into the river in Riverside Park. Two River Watch Volunteers were pulling the female from the water as officers arrived. The female wanted to commit suicide. BAC .12% 09-46572

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In addition to these numbers, 32 people threatened to kill themselves by jumping off the bridge or into the river and seven of those were on the bridge or by the river when found. River Watch stopped over 1400 persons in Riverside Park after hours in 2009 alone. Many were intoxicated going in the wrong direction. Since 2006, at least 65 of those persons stopped or found in the park were so intoxicated they could not care for themselves and police intervention was necessary.

**2/26/10. This research is based on incidents from 2005 to present. Incidents prior to 2005 are still be researched.

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