Divers in Cass County have recovered the body of a woman who drowned while swimming Wednesday night in the West Nishnabotna River south of Lewis. Rob Koppert, the 9-1-1 director in Cass County, says the incident near Cold Springs State Park was reported at around 9:15 p.m.
“We had a 31-year old western Iowa female apparently was out with some friends and family along the Nishnabotna River near the ‘Rock Cuts,'” he says. ” She got herself in a situation she couldn’t get herself out of and, unfortunately, drowned.” The woman’s body was recovered at around 11:30 p.m. Her name has not yet been released.
Koppert said early this morning, that officials were in the process of notifying the victim’s relatives. He said it’s likely the name will be released sometime before noon today. The area known as the “Rock Cuts” is popular destination, but it is very remote and has dangerous currents.
“It’s a beautiful area. A lot of people go out there and have picnics…and of course the river’s cool and inviting,” Koppert says. “…Unfortunately, where the Rock Cuts are because of the currents, it’s awfully deep there — 30-to 40-feet deep…and the currents just kind of swirl and you get into that and it’s a very dangerous situation.”
A four-year-old boy drowned at the same site in 2005. Koppert said the area’s remote location makes it hard for people to get to, including rescue personnel.
“If you’re going to go out there, I recommend not even swimming in that area at all,” he says. “It’s nice to go out to that area, but don’t swim.”
A few hours before the Cass County incident, three children — all related — drowned while swimming in the Iowa River, near Marshalltown. Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper says the two girls, one seven-year-old and the other nine, and a 7-year-old boy were found Wednesday night. Authorities searched the river for more than three hours after they were separated from others who were swimming.
Tupper says the search effort there was also hampered because of the difficulty in rescuers getting to the location in the river where the children went under the water. Drought has left the river shallow and difficult to launch a rescue boat. There are places where it’s only ankle deep, but other pockets of 12-plus feet of water.
No names have been released in connection with that incident. Last month, another child drowned in the same river about two miles away. On Sunday, a Council Bluffs man died after jumping out of a boat into a Nebraska lake and failed to resurface.
The body of 34-year old Michael Hartsook was recovered at around 7:30-p.m. Tuesday by some of the same members of the Midwest Regional Dive Team who searched the West Nishnabotna River Wednesday night for the latest drowning victim. The dive team is comprised of members from Cass and Ringgold Counties, along with the Red Oak and Clarinda Fire Departments.
By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic