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Missing worker's body has been located downstream from the Minnesota Falls dam

Family and friends of Tom Stich wait Friday afternoon outside the location of the Minnesota Falls dam. Stich's body was located in the Minnesota River Friday morning after apparently falling off the Minnesota Falls dam about 1 p.m. Wednesday. Tribune photo by Susan Lunneborg

MINNESOTA FALLS - The search for a missing Xcel Energy worker's body at the Minnesota Falls dam here is over.

The body of Tom Stich, 50, of Harris was found late Friday morning downstream from the Minnesota Falls dam, said his former wife Deb Stich, who was near the dam location.

Authorities are currently awaiting the arrival of the coroner.

Steve Roalstad, an Xcel spokesman, said earlier Friday morning that search and rescue teams had been searching all Friday morning for Tom Stich's body.

A large crane was used to lower a bucket right next to the falls. They believe Stich's body may have been trapped there by the currents on the Minnesota River, which is just a few feet below flood level.

After a thorough search downstream on Thursday, "this was the next logical step," Roalstad said.

Stich apparently fell off the dam around 1 p.m. Wednesday as he was removing logs and debris that had plugged a gate on the dam, which once held a hydroelectric facility.

Stich's life jacket was found about 100 yards downstream from where he was believed to have fallen in. Family members waited at the scene during the search.

The Chippewa County Sheriff's Office is coordinating the search that has included boats from area law enforcement agencies and fire and rescue units, including one from Hennepin County. The Hennepin County search team used a sonar system that helped locate victims of the I-35W bridge collapse.

Susan Lunneborg
Susan Lunneborg is news editor of the West Central Tribune. She joined the staff in Willmar in 1999 and has been a newspaper journalist for more than 20 years. She can be reached directly at the email linked here, but for the most timely response, please send news releases to the Tribune's general news email:
(320) 235-1150