8-Year-Old Girl’s Body Recovered from Minnesota River

An 8-year-old girl who vanished while swimming in the Minnesota River has had her corpse found.

Authorities have identified the girl as Janesville native Willow Bense.

A sad day, I say. Again, we would truly like to send the family our regrets and condolences, said Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Paul Barta. This morning, I spent some time with them. Losing a kid is devastating. Accidental situations like these are usually tragic and are nothing short of a tragedy.

On Thursday evening, Willow started to struggle in the deep water while swimming with her family at Mankato’s Sibley Park.

The kids pulled their life jackets off when they were on the sandbar, according to Captain Barta, even though they were initially wearing them.

One of the kids was able to be rescued by a spectator who was present, but Willow could not be saved.

While trying to save Willow, Willow’s mother was also carried away by the river.

The family had taken the kids to the river a week prior to Thursday.

“From the moment of the call until the end of the night, our search operations on the river continued. Additionally, we did reduce part of our workforce owing to nighttime safety concerns. But this morning, we renewed our search attempts. The corpse of Willow was discovered by one of the search boats at around 8:40 in the morning, approximately 5,000 feet downstream from where she was last seen the day before, according to Capt. Barta.

A State Patrol helicopter, five drones, and 11 boats were scouring the area, according to Captain Barta.

Update 1:

The corpse of an 8-year-old girl who vanished while swimming on the Minnesota River near Mankato on Thursday has been found, according to the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Captain Paul Barta, at roughly 8:40 on Friday morning, the Cleveland Fire Department found the death of 8-year-old Willow Bense of rural Janesville.

Bense started to struggle while swimming with her family in the Mankato area’s Sibley Park. Although Willow was not saved, her sister was, thanks to a bystander. According to Barta, Willow’s mother tried to save her but was also carried downstream by the river.

According to Barta, the Ramsey County Medical Examiners Office will perform an autopsy.

Update 2:

Without result, the hunt for a missing eight-year-old child went on all night.

On Thursday, a family swimming in the river close to a sandbar had four kids. Two of the kids, including an eight-year-old girl, reportedly started to struggle in the deep water, according to witnesses. Unable to save the girl, a bystander stepped in to pull one of the kids out of the water.

One of the kids was pulled from the water by a passerby, but the girl could not be saved.

Today, a number of regional organizations want to keep looking for the child who vanished in the Minnesota River on Thursday.

Around 6 o’clock in the evening, a report of a probable drowning near Sibley Park sparked the initial search.

At 11 a.m. this morning, a press conference will be held at the Public Safety Center in Mankato, located at 710 South Front Street.

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