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Dive search

The Sauk County Dive Team searches for a missing male near the Prairie du Sac Dam Saturday. The father's body was found Sunday morning by boaters. 

The body of a 53-year-old man who did not resurface after attempting to rescue his children from the Wisconsin River was found Sunday morning, the Sauk County Sheriff’s Office said.

The Sauk County Coroner’s Office ruled the death an accidental drowning, and no foul play is suspected, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The man had been missing since Saturday morning after swimming out into the river near the Prairie du Sac Dam with his wife to rescue their three children who were wearing life jackets but were floating too far away. The mother and three children were able to make it to shore, but the father did not.

Boaters reported finding a body in the river about 10 miles downstream of the dam between Mazomanie and Arena around 7:30 a.m. Sunday, the Sheriff’s Office said. First responders searched the area and found the father’s body.

The name of the man had not been released pending notification of family.

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The Sauk County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of the family struggling in the river shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday. Emergency responders searched for the father Saturday.

Sauk County Sheriff Chief Deputy Jeffrey Spencer said that area of the river is “very dangerous” because of rushing water from the dam and undercurrents. Conditions are not unusual for this time of year, he added.

The Sauk County Dive/Rescue Team, the state Department of Natural Resources, the Sauk County City Fire Department, Prairie Du Sac Fire Department, Sauk Prairie Emergency Medical Services and the Sauk Prairie Police Department helped with the initial search.

Alliant Energy also assisted by controlling the water flow below the dam to make the search easier.

The Iowa County Sheriff’s Department, Arena Police Department and Arena Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services assisted at the scene where the body was found.

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Emily Hamer is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She joined the paper in April 2019 and was formerly an investigative reporting intern at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.