Authorities on Tuesday, Sept. 3, continued searching the Minnesota River north of Belle Plaine after they received a report of an unoccupied boat with its motor running near the Hwy. 25 bridge. According to the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were dispatched to the scene at 10:50 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 2.

Search efforts continued into the evening on Monday and then resumed Tuesday morning for the missing boater who has been identified as Bruce Copenhaver, 62, of Watertown, Minnesota.

Witnesses reportedly located Copenhaver’s boat near the shoreline and were unable to locate anyone in the vicinity. Multiple agencies then began a search. Copenhaver’s brown 2015 Ford F-150 truck and boat trailer were also located at the Minnesota River boat landing in Belle Plaine.

“We have multiple agencies searching the shoreline, in the water on boats with sonar technology and also have a dive team on hand,” Sheriff Luke Hennen according to a press release.  “We know Mr. Copenhaver’s family is very concerned and we are doing everything we can to locate him.”

Family members state Copenhaver left home to go fishing between approximately 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on Monday.

According to Director of Emergency Management and Communications, Scott Haas, portions of the river bank were excavated to allow for bigger, more equipped vessels to enter the river for the search. Monday night’s rains created a minor shift in the currents, however, since “every little bit has an impact on the river,” Haas said. 

“We are still looking for a live boater, but as time passes, the possibility of the alternative is deeply on our mind,” Haas continued.

At this time, this incident is not suspicious and the search remains active, according to the Scott County Sheriff’s Office.

Assisting the Scott County Sheriff’s Office with the search and investigation over the past two days include the Belle Plaine Fire Department, Belle Plaine Police Department, the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Sibley County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Natural Resources,  Carver County Fire Department, Henderson Fire Department, Ridgeview Ambulance, Minnesota State Patrol, Jordan Fire Department, Shakopee Mdewakanton Public Safety, and the Carver County Dive Team.

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