Jay Cooke State Park drowning victim identifiedA man who reportedly was swimming Monday afternoon in an off-limits section of the St. Louis River was found dead in the river later in the evening.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
The man who drowned while swimming Monday afternoon in an off-limits section of the St. Louis River has been identified.
The Carlton County Sheriff's department said Samuel James Sanchez Eno, age 24, of Duluth, was found dead in the river a little more than three hours after last being seen by his swimming companion.
Police and rescue teams were called to the seen just before 5 p.m.
His body was recovered about 8:15 p.m. in 8 to 10 feet of water, according to Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake.
The region has experienced an unusual string of water emergencies during temperature spikes this summer, including six drownings between July 9 and Aug. 2.
Monday’s incident took place along the Munger Trail where a bridge spans the river, flanked by jagged rocks and unpredictable currents. Park officials have closed the area to swimmers, and a sign to that effect is posted on the bridge along the shoreline telling of the drowning death of a young person who was swept away by the current in that spot a number of years ago . The area continues to be popular with young people each summer, however.
Conservation Officer Scott Staples, who patrols the area of the bridge, said he is saddened and discouraged by this most recent incident, saying he makes it a point to patrol the area as often as possible and has issued both warnings and citations to people he found jumping or swimming there. Staples called it “a huge safety issue.”
Carlton County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the scene along with the Carlton County Dive and Rescue Team, area firefighters and state conservation officers. As the search continued, more help arrived from the St. Louis County Rescue Squad and the Minnesota State Patrol air unit.
After a brief storm system moved through the area just before the emergency call, the wind was swirling along the course of the river, making the water choppy and the currents unusually strong. Emergency workers were posted in various spots downriver to keep an eye out for the lost swimmer.
“Many people think they know the current in that river,” Staples said, “but if Minnesota Power should happen to open the gates of the dam, that could increase dramatically and wash swimmers down onto the rocks.
“I’ve chased swimmers out of this spot for five years, and they just keep coming back,” he said. “They’re not only risking their own lives, but also the lives of the people who are called out to respond to an incident like this one.”