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Kayakers find missing man's body in St. Joseph River

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The man who fell into the water, where the East Race meets St. Joseph River, on Saturday was found Sunday morning.

Kayakers found the body of 41-year-old Donald “Donnie” Lewis around 10 a.m. floating in the river near Keller Park on the 1800 block of North Riverside Drive.

Lewis’ family were with search teams Sunday morning checking the East Race area when the call came in at 10:15 a.m. South Bend Fire Department responded first and pulled the body out of the water.

The family gave officers a positive ID.  

 “I never thought this would happen,” said Jimmie Bradley, one of Lewis’ brothers. “I just want to tell the dnr thank you and the kayakers thank you very much.”

 Lewis’ other brother Timothy Lewis said he loved his brother and said he couldn’t see him doing this to himself.

Ken Dowdle, a corporal conservation officer with the DNR, said at this point to it’s too early to determine cause of death.

“well we just don’t know,” said Dowdle. “A body goes missing in the water, at that point it’s just a missing person, we do not know the cause of death until the investigation is complete.”

Now Lewis’ body is headed to Fort Wayne for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

“We’ll be looking for if the person actually did drown if there was any physical evidence of any type of trauma before he had possibly entered the water,” said Michael McGann, a coroner with St. Joseph County.

McGann said by Monday the family and officers involved in this open investigation should have answers.

Until then Lewis’ brothers will carry on his memory.

“Donnie was a good kind hearted father and he loved his kids to death,” Lewis said. “And he would do anything for them, his nieces, his nephews, whatever that was Donnie.”

Conservation officers say St. Joseph River is hard to navigate whether you are a strong swimmer or not.

They said rainfall that we’ve had has changed the water flow and said anytime you’re around water like this it is dangerous.

 

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