Albert Lea man drowns in Fountain Lake

Published 2:06 pm Thursday, July 13, 2023

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An Albert Lea man drowned Thursday on Fountain Lake near the Edgewater Bay boat landing, according to authorities.

Freeborn County Sheriff Ryan Shea said it is unclear whether the man, identified as Matthew Jay Anderson, 66, was putting his pontoon into the lake or trying to take it out.

“For some reason he ended up in the water as he was doing that and began to struggle,” Shea said.

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Someone who lives nearby reportedly heard him yelling for help and rushed over on his own pontoon to help, but as soon as he dove into the water, Anderson went under the water and was not visible anymore.

Shea said dispatchers received a 911 call right before 11 a.m., and a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer who was already out in a boat on the lake drove the boat to the area first and began looking.

Albert Lea Fire Rescue, Albert Lea Police Department, Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota State Patrol also responded, and arriving officers from the police and fire departments began dive searches in the area.

Shea said three boats were utilized in the search, from Albert Lea Fire Rescue, the DNR and the Sheriff’s Office, as well as underwater divers. They also utilized bottom drags off the boat in the search.

Utilizing side imaging technology, authorities ultimately found Anderson about 20 feet off the edge of the dock in about 8 1/2 feet of water, the sheriff estimated. Shea estimated Anderson had been under the water for about an hour when he was recovered.

One firefighter, Trevor DeRaad, was also transported by Mayo Ambulance to Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea after getting stuck with one of the hooks from a drag.

Check back for more information as it becomes available.