Area community dealing with loss
following automobile crash in Winona
Wednesday, January 08, 2014 5:12 AM
Members of the greater Lanesboro and Chatfield community find themselves seeking solace after a weekend automobile crash into the Mississippi River took the lives of two Lanesboro High School graduates. Recovery operations were ongoing for a third missing man as of press deadline Tuesday.
An SUV crashed through the ice into the river after missing a turn in Winona in the early hours of Sunday morning, Jan. 5. Rescue and recovery operations Sunday found 36-year-old Christina Lee Hauser of Winona in the driver's seat and 30-year-old Matt Erickson of Chatfield in the front passenger seat, both wearing seatbelts.
The body of 28-year-old Blake Overland of Stewartville was found Monday in the river near where the submerged vehicle had been located through the use of sonar and robotic equipment. The search was continuing for missing 29-year-old Andy Kingsbury of La Crosse.
Family and friends said the three men had been friends since high school.
Kristi Ruen seemed to sum up the feelings of loss when she wrote on Facebook, "Words can't express the grief of our community - Lanesboro is truly like one big family and when one family, or in this case families, are hurting - we all hurt. For those of you not aware, the three gentlemen were Lanesboro graduates. So sad for all involved."
Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand said Hauser was last seen walking out of a tavern on Third Street in Winona with three men. His office received a call around 7:30 a.m. Sunday after a passerby noticed tire tracks at Riverview Drive and Second Street that seemed to go over the dike and into the icy Mississippi. A guardrail also had been run through.
Brand reported investigators found the vehicle of one of the men near the tavern. Vehicles of the other two men were located at a residence.
The vehicle in the river was found on its wheels. The air bags had deployed. Brand said the windows were busted out, so its occupants may have been thrown out or tried to bust out. The car and its contents were taken to a heated garage. The investigation continues.