Body found in Minnesota River near Judson

NICOLLET COUNTY – A body believed to be the remains of a kayaker missing since June 22 was recovered from the Minnesota River near Judson on Saturday.

The Nicollet County Sheriff’s Office said the body, discovered by a fisherman, was recovered at 11:30 a.m. from the Minnesota River, about halfway between Courtland and Nicollet.

The body, believed to be the remains of Steven P. Fritze of Watertown, S.D., was initially located on the river in a log jam by a fisherman on the river, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

Positive identification is pending autopsy results from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner, according to the news release.

A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) air boat was used to recover the body.

Fritze, a sixth-grade teacher at St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Watertown, S.D., has been missing on the river since June 22, 2013. At the time, he was kayaking with two friends while visiting family in New Ulm when the kayaks overturned in fast-moving, rising river after becoming entangled in bushes. Two of the kayakers made it to shore but Fritze did not.

A coalition 50 personnel from emergency response and law enforcement agencies worked together, scouring the river in boats and on shore with cadaver dogs for weeks after the mishap. Agencies taking part in the search included the DNR, New Ulm Fire & Rescue, the Courtland Fire Department, Brown, Nicollet, Blue Earth and Le Sueur County Sheriff’s Departments.

A memorial service for Fritze was held on July 3, 2013 at St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Watertown. S.D.

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