UPDATE: Body recovered of missing girl in Minnesota River

(ABC 6 News) – UPDATE – The Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office says the body of girl who was last seen struggling in the waters of the Minnesota River Thursday evening has been recovered.

In an 11am news conference Friday, authorities said the deceased body of 8-year-old Willow Rae Bense of rural Janesville had been found in shallow water near a sandbar around 8:40am approximately 5,000 feet downstream.

The Cleveland Fire Department was assisting the search efforts and located the missing girl.

The incident remains under investigation in conjunction with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office.


On Thursday at approximately 6:03PM, emergency personnel from Blue Earth County responded to a possible drowning in the Minnesota River at Sibley Park.

A family with four children were swimming in the river near a sandbar. Witnesses reported two of the children including an eight-year-old girl began struggling in deep water. A bystander was able to help one of the children out of the water but was not able to rescue the girl.

Personnel from the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office, Mankato DPS Fire and Police, the Nicollet County Sheriff’s Office, MN DNR, and the Madison Lake Fire Department all assisted in the search efforts on the river.

The search continued through the night without success, and will be ongoing Friday.

A briefing is scheduled at the Public Safety Center in Mankato Friday morning. More details will be provided.