Michelle Jensen

Michelle Jensen

A young man went missing.

The father frantically called the Barron County Sheriff’s Office, letting authorities know that his middle son, an avid outdoorsman into fishing, hunting, snowmobiling and dirt biking, hadn’t returned home, wasn’t returning calls or contacting family, and failed to report for work — all unusual behavior.

The Sheriff’s Office kicked into high gear. Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald assigned two investigators to full-time duty on the case, asked the state Department of Natural Resources to do a flyover and was about to contact the Civil Air Patrol to continue the work.

Meanwhile, the community en masse prayed for the missing man’s safe return. People wondered what they could do to help. They wanted and needed to do their part.

Unfortunately, the case of Benjamin Jacobson’s disappearance after an evening of ice fishing on Silver Lake ended in tragedy. His family — parents Kevin Jacobson and Susan Jacobson, stepfather, brothers Sam and Zachary, grandmother, and aunts, uncles and cousins — endured the agony of not knowing the 22-year-old’s fate for a solid week while hoping and praying the Sheriff’s Department would bring the man with so many more years ahead of him home alive.

I can’t imagine how Ben’s family felt while they waited for word. I especially can’t fathom how they later took the news of the discovery of his body and pickup on Silver Lake, the lake where he lived with his father.

My heart broke upon the news, as — I’m sure — many others’ did throughout Barron County.

I know I don’t ever want to experience this type of tragedy, and I pray no one else ever has to endure it. I also know that’s a wish that can never be granted.

Ben’s disappearance showed just how much Barron County residents care about their neighbors — even if they don’t know them personally.

Many people became emotionally involved with the case of the missing man. They asked: Where was he last seen so they knew where keep an eye open for Ben and his 2002 green pickup truck that had disappeared with him? Who were the last people Ben saw and what did they say? What was the state of the investigation? Can’t his phone be traced? What can we do to help?

A young man went missing, and the community rallied.

Sometimes it takes an unfortunate turn of events to show just how much communities take care of their own.

As demonstrated here, community members were prepared to jump right into the fray to bring Ben home safely. Unfortunately, few clues existed to pinpoint a place to start looking for the Cumberland area man.

Fitzgerald had said he understood people’s frustrations, and as soon as authorities had a place to start the search, teams would be assembled.

And no doubt several community members would have leaped at the chance. They wanted to be part of a successful effort to find Ben and bring him back to a warm home and hearth, with family waiting to give him hugs of welcome.

While the community waited, the faithful prayed — mighty hard. They sent well-wishes and hope to the family.

And when news hit that a property owner had found Ben on the shores of Silver Lake and the search came to a close, they prayed even harder for the family.

A man went missing. The community felt his loss.

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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