Man attempting suicide rescued from Mississippi River

Dan Haugen

Rescue workers pulled a man from the Mississippi River on Thursday after he went over Upper St. Anthony Falls in an apparent suicide attempt.

A jogger spotted the man in the river at about 12:45 p.m. and reported it to nearby Minnesota Department of Transportation workers who were conducting an annual Stone Arch Bridge inspection.

Upper St. Anthony Falls lockmaster Steven Lenhart said he received a call from a co-worker at another lock alerting him of a person “floundering” in the river between the Third Avenue and Stone Arch Bridges.

Lenhart spotted the man trapped and swirling in an eddy – a circular current – just below the falls and repeatedly tried to toss him a life ring. But the man refused to grab it, Lenhart said. Instead he clung to a pair of logs also swirling in the eddy. At one point, Lenhart said, the man caught the life ring but quickly tossed it away.

“He was hanging onto those logs, so he did have some will to live, evidently,” Lenhart said.

Other rescue workers from the Minneapolis police and fire departments, and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department soon joined Lenhart.

After several more attempts, the man eventually took hold of the ring long enough for workers to drag him out of the eddy. Captain Bill Chandler of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department was one of the workers who pulled the man from the water at approximately 1:20 p.m.

“I think he wanted to fight with us,” Chandler said.

Lenhart said the man repeatedly told workers: “Let me go. Let me die.”

The man didn’t sustain any noticeable injuries despite a 50-foot drop from the top of the falls, Lenhart said. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center.

Described as thin, white and of medium height, the man looked to be in his early to mid 40s. Minneapolis police and fire department spokespersons did not know the man’s identity. Sheriff’s department officials did not return phone calls Thursday.

Lenhart said water was flowing over the falls Thursday at a rate of approximately 15,000 cubic feet per second. He said approximately three people have gone over the falls in his 25 years working at the lock for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.