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Continued: Man disappears in St. Croix River; teen drowns in Mississippi River

“I love my son a lot,” he said, sleepless with worry as he watched the search Monday. “I really feel sorry for my son. He’s a nice boy, he’s smart, he’s going to school to get his master’s degree.”

The elder Vang, who came to the United States from Laos 34 years ago, stood in the midst of more than 100 family members and church friends who had come to the river to offer their support and prayer. “They say to me, ‘Don’t feel bad,’ ” he said.

Family members said Tou Hu Vang was studying business communications at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, that he played basketball, and performed rap music. “He’s a 21-year-old with hopes and dreams,” said Vang’s brother in law, Roger Taoly.

“Let’s hope they find him soon so it doesn’t drag out the pain for the family,” Taoly said.

About 40 people from the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office, Taylors Falls Fire Department and the National Forest Service and other local agencies are involved in the search, said Sheriff Rick Duncan.

Water ‘is very deceiving’

Friends and relatives of 14-year-old Dylan Thorp gathered Monday night at Lions Levee Park in St. Paul Park to hold a candlelight vigil. Thorp’s body was recovered from the Mississippi River near the park early Monday morning by a dive team after he disappeared about 5:15 p.m. Twelve divers worked in shifts before the teen’s body was recovered.

Thorp’s mother and other family members declined to comment Monday night. They were gathered near a growing memorial that included a cross, balloons, teddy bears and a colorful stuffed rainbow trout.

Six Oltman Middle School friends who came to the park late Monday afternoon said Thorp was wading in the river with his girlfriend; they described him as a fun kid who loved to fish. The six middle-schoolers were sad and quiet as they built the makeshift memorial to their friend “Thorpie” on the sandy shore.

Nearby, Lori Etzler of South St. Paul was fishing for bass and catfish, and families gathered at picnic tables in the shade along the riverbank. Etzler said she also was at the river Sunday as police and rescue workers searched for Thorp. The river is not a safe place to wade, she said.

“One time I went into the river to get fishing line that was caught,” she said. “The current just pulled me in. That river water is very deceiving.”


Staff writers Mike Hughlett and Alejandra Matos contributed to this report. • 651-925-5037 • 612-673-7619


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