Red Cedar River

A view of the Red Cedar River, looking north from Allen Street Bridge. 

The city of Rice Lake Police Department and Barron County District Attorney's Office have issued a joint statement on the death of M.E.W., a 2-year-old who was found in the Red Cedar River and could not be resuscitated earlier this month:

The City of Rice Lake Police Department has completed its investigation into the death of M.E.W. The investigative reports were sent to the District Attorney's Office for review. No criminal charges will be filed. The death of M.E.W. was a tragic accident the circumstances of which were unforeseeable when the child's father laid down with M.E.W. and the two of them went to sleep. While her father was sleeping, M.E.W. woke up. M.E.W. could walk very well on her own and had recently learned how to open the door. M.E.W. walked to the front door, pulled down on the door handle and opened the door far enough to get outside. M.E.W.'s father did not hear or see M.E.W. leave.

As soon as M.E.W.'s father woke up and realized M.E.W. was not laying with him, he called for her but she did not come. M.E.W.'s father noticed the main door going outside was cracked open. He ran outside calling for M.E.W., but could not find her. M.E.W.'s father looked for M.E. W. outside for approximately five minutes and then called 911.

On duty officers with the City of Rice Lake Police Department immediately responded to the home. The Barron County Communications Center issued a CODE RED alert to the immediate one-half mile radius of the home. Marshfield Medical Center Ambulance and Rice Lake Fire Department personnel were immediately paged out for standby. M.E.W.'s mother, who was at work, was notified.

Off duty officers with other police agencies, members of the Rice Lake Fire Department and citizen volunteers all began searching for M.E.W. As the search intensified, a citizen volunteer located tiny footprints right next to the Red Cedar River, at the end of a cleared path that went to the river. The tiny footprints located in the snow were a single set of child size footprints alone with no other footprints.

Officers used a thermal imaging device to scan the river. With the use of the thermal imaging device, officers located M.E.W. submerged in the river approximately 30 yards downstream from where the tiny footprints were located next to the river. Despite the valiant effort of everyone who took part in the search for M.E.W., and the life-saving efforts that were performed, M.E.W. could not be resuscitated.

Dr. Rebecca J. Asch-Kendrick, at the Midwest Examiner's Office, performed an autopsy on M.E.W. Dr. Asch-Kendrick determined the manner of death was accidental and the cause of death was drowning.

The response of police officers, firefighters, EMTs and citizen volunteers who came together to search for M.E. W. is an outstanding example of the care and compassion we have for one another in Barron County.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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