Rescuers recover body of second missing sewer worker

Search boat
Boats were searching the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul Friday for two sewer workers who were caught the day before by a surge of water in the city's underground sewer system.
MPR Photo/Marisa Helms

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The body of a second sewer worker who was caught beneath the city's streets during a heavy rain was recovered from the Mississippi River on Saturday, authorities said.

The body of Joe Harlow, 34, of Plainview, was found around 4:15 p.m. near a spillway where a storm sewer line drains into the river, Ramsey County Sheriff's Cmdr. Joe Paget said. On Friday evening, recovery crews found the body of Dave Yasis, 23, of Maplewood in the river near the same spot.

Fire chief
St. Paul interim Fire Chief Bob Morrison said the Friday morning search was fruitless. "At this time, we have not found any of the victims," he said at a news conference shortly before noon.
MPR Photo/Marisa Helms

Harlow and Yasis, along with six others, were working on a sewer restoration project Thursday when a storm swept through the Twin Cities area. They were about 150 feet below ground when they were told to evacuate. Six workers made it out safely; two were lifted out in a bucket by a crane while the rest moved to another exit point with a staircase and climbed out.

According to the National Weather Service, about .44 inches of rain fell in St. Paul in about 30 minutes.

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At 8 a.m. Saturday, crews from the Ramsey County Water Patrol, St. Paul Fire Department, Lametti & Sons construction firm - which employed the men - and Upper River Services began searching an area near the spillway.

Harlow's body was found just 15 yards from where Yasis was found. Harlow was married with four children.

Paget said he hoped the discovery "helps this family put closure to a tragic incident."

Meanwhile, state investigators have started to look into what caused the tragedy.

Waiting for word
Marion and Donald Beckman of Blaine were waiting alongside the riverbank. They said one of the missing men, who have not been identified by officials, was Marion's nephew.
MPR Photo/Marisa Helms

Investigators from Minnesota's Occupational Safety and Health Division were checking the training and evacuation procedures of Lametti & Sons, which is based in Hugo.