Drowning victim identified - Hmong girl

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Authorities have confirmed that the body found late Tuesday in the Wisconsin River in Wausau is that of a missing 17-year-old.
Marathon County Medical Examiner John Larson said this morning that Hang Her of Wausau died from freshwater drowning. His body was found near an area between Isle of Ferns and Oak Island Park where Her was last seen.

Her was a senior at Wausau East High School.

Larson said a toxicology exam would be conducted, but alcohol or drugs were not thought to be a factor in the drowning. There are no plans for an autopsy.

Earlier in the afternoon, authorities on the scene would not confirm the identity of the missing teen, but Vue Her said that they were looking for his brother.

“Nothing like this has ever happened,” said a visibly distraught Vue Her, 18, referring to his seven siblings.

Lt. Steve Bahr of the Wausau Fire Department confirmed earlier in the day that a male was swimming in the area Tuesday and tried to cross from Isle of Ferns to Oak Island.

“He hit a point where he started bobbing, and his head started going down,” Kho Lor said, who was standing on the sandbar when she saw her friend go under.

Hang Her, Lor and four girls arrived at the park at 11 a.m. and went to the sandbar in the river. At some point, Lor said, Her left them and walked over to the Isle of Ferns. After walking along the shore, Her sat on a large log jutting out from the island, Lor, 16, said. He then got off the log and started swimming toward Oak Island.

Friends said they lost sight of Her at about 1:50 p.m. Tuesday.

The depth of the river in that area varies greatly toward the center, Bahr said. There are areas 2 feet deep and pockets up to 8 feet deep, he said.

Search crews fought a strong, southbound current in an area where the river bottom is uneven and rocky with many submerged logs, Bahr said.

Bahr, who has been with the Fire Department 13 years, could not recall a drowning in that area.

-- Reporters Brian Reisinger and Jeff Starck contributed to this report


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