Chad Rygwall’s small plane was pulled from the Mississippi River in Anoka County on Sunday afternoon and, as expected, the body of the 47-year-old Princeton, Minn., man was found inside, sheriff’s officials said.
Anoka County deputies solemnly packed away gear and wrapped up their efforts on the river as Lt. Brent Erickson talked to the media Sunday afternoon in Mississippi Point Park in Champlin.
Erickson said the Anoka and Hennepin County dive teams and a local salvage company tried to recover the plane Saturday evening, but the swift current and swirling debris made it too dangerous.
A commercial diving company was contacted and a diver was in the water by noon Sunday.
The diver reached the wreckage, attached lines and the plane was pulled from the water about 12:45 p.m. on the Dayton side of the river, Erickson said.
Rygwall’s body was taken to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey about 1:40 p.m., Erickson said.
The body of his wife, Jill Rygwall, 48, had been found in the river shortly after the late afternoon crash Friday.
The couple, both flying enthusiasts, were on a sightseeing flight, flying low to see the fall colors. Chad Rygwall, the pilot, hit power lines that stretched across the river and the plane nose-dived into the water. The wreckage was found by sonar about 300 yards downriver from the power lines.
The National Transportation Safety Board was expected to arrive at the scene Sunday afternoon; the FAA was on the scene and helping with the investigation, Erickson said.
He said the water was about 12 feet deep and about 52 degrees. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen [the river] this high in the fall,” he said. “This is more indicative of spring levels.”
The Rygwalls’ flight originated from the Princeton airport. Presumably, the couple planned to land there, too.
Rygwall had held a private pilot’s license for five years, and the single-engine Cessna was registered in his name.
A relative said the couple had been married for 23 years and had a son, Andrew, who is 13. He is staying with his grandparents.