Second Body Found in Search for Missing Minn. Sewer Workers

July 30, 2007

The body of a second St. Paul, Minn., sewer worker who was caught beneath the city’s streets during a heavy rain was recovered from the Mississippi River on Saturday, July 28, authorities said.

The body of Joe Harlow, 34, of Plainview, was found around 4:50 p.m. near a spillway where a storm sewer line drains into the river, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Joe Paget said. On Friday evening, recovery crews found the body of Dave Yasis, 23, of Maplewood in the river near the same spot.

Harlow and Yasis, along with six others, were working on a sewer restoration project Thursday when a storm swept through the Twin Cities area. They were about 150 feet below ground when they were told to evacuate. Six workers made it out safely; two were lifted out in a bucket by a crane while the rest moved to another exit point with a staircase and climbed out.

According to the National Weather Service, about .44 inches of rain fell in St. Paul in about 30 minutes.

At 8 a.m. Saturday, crews from the Ramsey County Water Patrol, St. Paul Fire Department, Lametti & Sons construction firm – which employed the men – and Upper River Services began searching an area near the spillway.

Harlow’s body was found just 15 yards from where Yasis was found. Harlow was married with four children.

Paget said he hoped the discovery “helps this family put closure to a tragic incident.”

The Harlow family asked for privacy and wasn’t expected to make a statement Saturday night.

While Harlow’s family waited during the search, dancers and drummers took part in an Aztec healing and mourning ceremony across the river on the west bank. Though he was of Filipino origin, Yasis’ cousin, Maryanne Yaocenoxtli, and her husband, Sergio, live the culture of the Aztecs.

Meanwhile, state investigators have started to look into what caused the tragedy.

Investigators from Minnesota’s Occupational Safety and Health Division were checking the training and evacuation procedures of Lametti & Sons, which is based in Hugo.

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