KIMT News 3 – You may remember just a month ago, when an SUV crashed into the Mississippi River near Winona, four people died.
30-year-old Matthew Erickson and 36-year-old Christina Hauser’s bodies were found in the SUV when it was pulled out of the bitterly cold water.
28-year-old Blake Overland’s body was found the next day, and 29-year-old Andrew Kingsbury’s body was found, two weeks later.
And during those search efforts, volunteers offered their time and skills, including a local dive team.
Matt Haugan is a diver with the Iowa Underwater Search and Rescue, and while it’s not unusual for the Parkersburg resident to receive a call that he’s needed on a dive scene, in a recent case, the assignment hit a little bit closer to home.
“Actually I called Terry and told him about it, one of the people inside the vehicle was a friend of mine,” said Haugan.
Haugan found out that his old wrestling buddy from high school, Matthew Erickson, was one of the victims found in a Winona county SUV when it was pulled out of the water last month.
When Haugan learned there were more missing, he knew he had to go.
He traveled to Winona to help find the fourth victim.
“I’ve never been on a search that’s taken that long to find a person,” said Haugan.
Terry Roney, President of Iowa’s Underwater Search and Rescue team, knew he and his crew would do the best they could.
“I mean the chance of your machine; your regulators can go bad and stuff so we’re very proud of them. Every one of our guys tried to do their best and women did the best they can,” said Roney.
Roney says the search location scared them the most
“The most dangerous time right now would be on the river. The rivers moving, the currents moving, for a rescue in a river it’s very difficult,” said Roney.
But for Haugan and his team, it was a matter of doing their job and finding those left behind.
“It helped the family a lot and it helped me also,” said Haugan.
Haugan said he did fall through the ice at one point while searching.
He says he knows his friend Matt would be very proud of him for all that he and his team did.