Under normal circumstances, the dam is a walking path with the creek flowing through three 4-foot-wide culverts in the dam. The victims are inside a culvert, beyond the reach of the rescue workers and the strong current made the water dangerous, Heinert said at the scene of the accident Saturday.
“The treacherous water is what’s really adding difficulty,” he said. “It’s very dangerous at this point.”
The rescue team suspended their work around 3:30 p.m., said Sgt. Jim Hulm of the Sheriff’s Department, and would not start again until after Sunday.
“We pretty much exhausted what we could do with that equipment,” Hulm said. “We’ll be regrouping later this week and looking at alternative measures.”
Members of the rescue team worked from a boat tethered to the shore and tried to reach the victims trapped in the water below them. The responders and their vehicles were set up on a low-lying, soggy part of the golf course while golfers played nearby on other parts of the course.
Heinert said the creek was above 10 feet and usually overflows its banks at
9.4 feet. He said the water was between 2 and 12 feet deep and about 46 degrees.
The Sheriff’s Department responded to the accident with a Bismarck Rural Fire Department swift water rescue team. They worked to recover the bodies until about 10:30 Friday night and resumed their work at 7 a.m. Saturday, Heinert said.
Heinert identified the victims as Cory Berger, 23, of Bismarck, and James Hellman, 24, of Bismarck. The third passenger in the canoe, James M. Lynk, 21, of Bismarck, was able to escape the water.
Two others were in kayaks but they left the water before reaching the dam, he said. Heinert believed all the boaters had Bismarck addresses.
Neither of the victims wore life jackets, Heinert said.