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Hawley man's body pulled from Buffalo River

A 66-year-old man's body was pulled from the Buffalo River in Hawley, Minn., on Sunday morning, about two hours after family members reported him missing, the city's police chief said.

A 66-year-old man's body was pulled from the Buffalo River in Hawley, Minn., on Sunday morning, about two hours after family members reported him missing, the city's police chief said.

Chief Ernest Rhodes identified the deceased as James L. Johnson of Hawley. (Rhodes earlier said Johnson would have turned 66 on Monday, but Johnson's daughter said he in fact turned 66 on Oct. 24.)

Foul play is not suspected, Rhodes said. Johnson's remains were sent to the Ramsey County medical examiner's office for an autopsy.

Authorities don't know when Johnson entered the river, but they believe it happened in the area of a footbridge that spans the Buffalo River about 200 yards north of U.S. Highway 10, Rhodes said.

Johnson had to cross the footbridge to get from his son's house in the Riverside Trailer Park to his own house in the Riverview Acres Trailer Park on the east side of Hawley, Rhodes said.

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Authorities believe Johnson had left his son's house on the west side of the river about 9:15 p.m. Saturday, Rhodes said.

"We're still checking on the circumstances as to how he entered the river," he said.

Family members reported Johnson missing at about 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

Hawley firefighters searching for Johnson found him deceased in the middle of the river about a mile downriver from the footbridge, his body caught on an old dam near the golf cart sheds at the Hawley Golf Course, Rhodes said.

The investigation remains open, he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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