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Missing Kayaker’s Body Found After Extended Search at Saint Croix National Scenic River

searchers in boat.

Searchers on the Namekagon River, St. Croix National Scenic River. NPS photo

Authorities at Saint Croix National Scenic River in Wisconsin have recovered the body of a missing kayaker after an extended search. In a bizarre twist, the search was complicated by the theft of the kayak involved in the incident.

Around mid-morning on April 8th, the Washburn County Sheriff’s Department learned that Randal Danczyk, a 45-year-old local resident and experienced kayaker, was missing on the Namekagon River within the Saint Croix National Scenic River.

According to his girlfriend, Danczyk been dropped off at Stinnett Landing, where he began his trip on the river. An intensive, three-day search was begun by the park and county sheriff under a unified command. Extensive hasty searches were conducted on the river and at downstream landings by canoe, vehicle and a Life Link helicopter. No sign of either Danczyk or his kayak was found.

Aircraft, grid searchers, divers and K-9 teams were used over the next two days in areas deemed to be the likeliest places to find Danczyk, but also proved fruitless. Investigators, however, determined that his kayak had been found during the afternoon of April 8th in a deep pool near Stinnett Landing by a local resident, who admitted to taking the kayak and hiding it in his garage. Criminal charges are pending against this individual.

Divers then recovered Danczyk’s body in 18 feet of water near the spot where his kayak had been found. The NPS operation was led by district ranger Chuck Carlson and conducted with assistance from all park divisions. The search involved units from Wisconsin DNR, the Washburn County Sheriff’s Department, Sawyer County Search and Rescue, the Canine Emergency Response Team (CERT), Sawyer County Dive Team, and numerous individual volunteers.

Saint Croix National Scenic River includes 154 miles of the St. Croix River from Gordon, Wisconsin to its confluence with the Mississippi River and the entire 98 miles of its Namekagon tributary. Located in northwestern Wisconsin, the Riverway boundary outlines an irregular, narrow corridor averaging about 1/2 mile wide along these two rivers. A mosaic of ownership includes the National Park Service, private landowners, the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, counties, and communities.

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