Teen's Body Recovered
By Jeff Zent
The Forum -
Saturday, January 18, 2003
Steve and Lisa Eicholtz watched rescue workers pull their son’s body from the icy Red River Friday.
A volunteer who joined the search in its third day spotted 18-year-old Tyler Eicholtz just before noon under the river’s blanket of ice.
The Fargo North High School senior fell through the ice Wednesday night while riding a snowmobile about four miles south of Fargo.
“You don’t understand how much of a relief it is to know my son is out of that icy water and we don’t have to wait until spring,” said Steve Eicholtz during a spontaneously called news conference at the river.
“I just want to say thanks to all the volunteers and for all the prayers that I know we’ve received from all over,” he said.
A search volunteer, using an underwater camera, spotted Eicholtz under the ice about 150 yards north of the Cass County Road 16 bridge.
It was under the bridge where Eicholtz and his snowmobile fell through. Valley Water Rescue divers searched the river for about an hour Wednesday night, but stopped because of dangerous currents.
Thursday, rescue workers using augers began drilling holes in the ice so they could lower underwater cameras.
They dug about 100 holes and searched about 75 yards downstream from the bridge before suspending the search about 4 p.m.
Early Friday, Peter Fendt, a member of the Valley Water Rescue team, hovered over the river in a helicopter, looking for signs of the teenager’s whereabouts.
Rescue workers also brought in two dogs, hoping they could lead them to Eicholtz.
But mostly they continued to rely on underwater cameras in their search – and it worked.
Friday a volunteer and rescue team three times the size of Thursday’s dug about 600 more holes in the ice before finding Eicholtz.
About 50 volunteers donning life vests helped Valley Water Rescue continue the search.
“I just wanted to come out and help the family,” said Kyle Cigelske of Fargo.
Like many volunteers, Cigelske brought motorized augers to cut holes in the ice and underwater cameras commonly used by anglers.
A group of Tyler’s friends walked onto the ice and under the bridge. They gathered near the hole where they lost their friend. Some of the teens held each other and dropped flowers on the ice.
Once Eicholtz was spotted, all but about 10 searchers walked off the ice.
Those who stayed used saws to cut through the ice. Others consoled the parents while divers slipped into the water to pull out their son.
Eicholtz’s body was taken to a Fargo funeral home, said Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist.
Eicholtz was found in about 4½ feet of water near the river’s west bank just before the river bends to the east, officials said.
“This community really rallied around this search,” said Cass County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Argall.
“For this family to have some closure – it’s just very important,” he said.
Readers can reach
Forum reporter Jeff Zent
at (701) 241-5526