Search Resumes for Family of 4 Who Disappeared on Mississippi River

The search resumed Sunday for four people who disappeared into the swirling water near a dam on the Mississippi River near Dresbach in Winona County.

Sheriff Dave Brand said searchers would have the civil air patrol overhead and a half-dozen boats on the water.

Officials said the missing people are a family from St. Paul. They are Cha Kong Yang, 34; his fiance Cee Her, 34, and her two young children, Amianda Xiong and Josh Xiong.

Mike Bakke of Sparta, Wis. was fishing from another boat about 30 feet away and said it appeared that the party packed up to leave and hauled in the boat's anchor at around 5 p.m. Saturday.

Bakke said it appeared a fishing line or anchor rope may have gotten tangled in the boat's propeller, and the man in the other boat struggled in vain to start the motor. The fierce current sucked the boat into the dam structure, forcing the boat up against a massive concrete wall. The people in two nearby boats tried to help and threw a rope to the struggling boat, Bakke said. He said it appeared the boat would be pulled to safety. But as soon as the rescuers started to pull with their boats, the other boat and its four occupants sank.

"They went down instantly," Bakke said. "The boat disappeared and the four people disappeared."

Officers were called at 5:35 p.m. and found the boat quickly but saw no sign of the boaters. Authorities pulled the aluminum fishing boat out of the water at 6:40 p.m.

"I wish we would have found them so we would have had a happy recovery," he said. "It doesn't look good now."

There were reports that the two children were wearing lifejackets, but Brand had his doubts.

"My feeling is that if the lifejackets would have been on it would have kept them above the water," he said. "We did a good search."