Body found near Wakota Bridge identified

A body found in the Mississippi River near the Wakota Bridge last week has been identified as a University of Minnesota student who went missing in April.

Nicholas Patrick Pacha, 19, was discovered by an angler about a half-mile south of the Wakota Bridge near the border of South St. Paul and Inver Grove Heights June 2. Police from both cities responded to the scene, and the Dakota County Sheriff’s Department recovered the body shortly thereafter. The body was identified by the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office June 5.

Pacha, originally from Naperville, Ill., had been missing since April 29. He’s believed to have jumped from the Third Street Bridge in Minneapolis; Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows would not confirm the circumstances of his death, but did say that no foul play was suspected.

While such discoveries are rare, Bellows said people who believe they’ve seen a body in a river or lake should call 911 instead of attempting to confirm the find or recover the body at the risk of their own life.

“The first thing we want them to do is contact authorities,” Bellows said. “Fortunately with cell phones, most people tend to have one with them.”

Bellows also extended his condolences to Pacha’s relatives in Illinois.

“I feel for the family,” he said. “You expect your child is going up there and getting a good education, and this is a tragedy.”

— Luke Reiter

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