Winona Crash: 3 Dead, 1 Missing as SUV Plunges Into Mississippi

Tuesday, 07 Jan 2014 10:03 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Officials in Minnesota are still searching for the body of a fourth victim who was plunged into the icy Mississippi River over the weekend after an SUV crashed through a guardrail in Winona.

Police believe that three of the passengers — three men who had been best friends since kindergarten — reportedly met up and had some drinks at a tavern in downtown Winona Saturday night before hitching a ride with 36-year-old Christina Lee Hauser in the early hours of Sunday morning.

"They did everything together so it's not surprising to the family that the three of them would have stuck together," Ron Ganrude, chief deputy of the Winona County sheriff’s office, told the Star Tribune.

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It's not clear exactly what caused the vehicle to end up in the river, but police recovered the bodies of Hauser, 28-year-old Blake Overland of Stewartville, Minn., and 30-year-old Mathew Patrick Erickson of Chatfield, Minn., the Tribune reported.

Andrew Kingsbury, 29, of La Crosse, Wis., is still missing.

Police said the three friends had just met Hauser that night. It's not known what role, if any, alcohol played in the crash.

"They were at a drinking establishment and I assume they had something, but I don't know if it played a factor in the accident," Ganrude said.

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