SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Crews on Saturday recovered the body of a second person who drowned in an icy South Dakota river while trying to save a 6-year-old boy, authorities said.
A search boat discovered the body of Lyle Francis Eagletail, 28, in the Big Sioux River shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday, said Jeff Helm, division chief for Sioux Falls Fire and Rescue.
Eagletail had been near the river in Falls Park Thursday evening when he saw 6-year-old Garrett Martin Wallace either fall into the frothing water or become obscured by the gathering foam. Garrett’s 16-year-old sister had jumped in to save the boy and Eagletail followed. The boy later emerged from the river and was uninjured.
The body of Madison Leigh Wallace, of Vermillion, was discovered Friday afternoon. Eagletail’s body was discovered about 100 feet from Wallace’s body in a part of the river that was about 12 feet deep, Helm said. It was an area on the east bank that crews had previously searched.
“That just shows you how treacherous and how easy it is to hide such a thing in this murky water,” he said.
Witness accounts differ on whether someone pushed the boy out of the water or he popped up on a rock before being pulled ashore, Sioux Falls Fire Chief Jim Sideras said earlier. Emergency workers carried the boy away from the river wrapped in a blanket.
About 45 people had been taking part in the search efforts Saturday, including a dive team from Pierre, Helm said.
About a dozen family members of Eagletail’s had remained at the river as rescuers searched for him. After the body was found, they immediately left to see it at a nearby hospital and did not speak with the media.
The park had been closed since the incident and was to reopen at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sioux Falls Fire said. The city rescheduled an annual St. Patrick’s Day lighting ceremony at Falls Park until Sunday.
The city of Sioux Falls is named after the Big Sioux River’s cascading waterfalls in Falls Park, a tourist attraction where people often picnic or pose for wedding photos.
The park draws about 525,000 visitors annually, according the local visitors’ bureau, and is an especially popular spot in the spring and summer. Thursday had been the first day in months that temperatures reached 50 degrees.
Fatal accidents are rare at Falls Park. The body of 29-year-old Travis Hallan was found just north of the falls after his canoe tipped over in 2006. In 1999, 26-year-old Slavisa Andric drowned after losing his footing on rocks at the park. Omar Iasi Ibrahim Warsame, 43, had been fishing at the river in 1997 when he fell in and drowned.