2 bodies recovered from car that went into river, 2 more missing

Authorities have recovered two bodies from a car that plunged into the Mississippi River in Winona, and they’re still looking for two others believed to have been riding in the car.

The Winona County Sheriff’s Department received a call just before 7:30 a.m. Sunday of tire tracks going over the dike near Riverview Drive and 2nd Street and the possibility that a car had gone into the river. Responders found a broken guard rail on Riverview Drive, as well as a license plate, purse and other debris on shore.

Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand says an underwater camera spotted the GM Envoy, and authorities pulled it out of the water around noon. Officers found two bodies inside – Christina Lee Hauser, a 36-year-old woman from Winona, and 30-year-old Mathew Patrick Erickson.

Hauser was believed to have been driving with three male passengers when it left a Winona Tavern just before 1:30 a.m. Two of those passengers have not yet been found.

Sheriff Brand says the below-zero temps froze water over the car almost immediately making survival nearly impossible.

“They could have never gotten out when it broke through the ice last night because they probably didn’t take long with the freezing temperatures especially since the Mississippi River froze right away,” Brand said.

Mayo Clinic is conducting both autopsies which should be completed by Wednesday.

The incident is similar to one that happened 17 years ago at the same intersection. In March of 1997, five college students were killed after their car want off Riverview Drive and into the Mississippi River – just 20 feet from where crews found two bodies in the water Sunday.