Stearns County Sheriff's Office Pushing For More Advanced Sonar Technology

May 10, 2018 05:25 AM

A man who died in the Mississippi River in St. Cloud has been identified as 49-year-old Shannon Shaw.

Witnesses spotted Shaw late Monday afternoon.


RELATED: Authorities ID Body Recovered from Mississippi River in St. Cloud

They thought he was trying to swim across, but lost sight of him in the middle of the river.

Tuesday night searchers found his body. 

It took the Stearns County Sheriff's Office more than 24 hours because the water is murky, the current is strong and its current technology isn't as advanced as needed for those conditions.

RELATED: Authorities Recover Body from Mississippi River in St. Cloud

"As part of our water patrol division, we have depth finders - also known as fish locators," Chief Deputy Jon Lentz said. 

The department found itself in a similar situation last year - looking underwater for Jesse Dady, a missing St. Cloud State student.

"Given the time of year, the amount of obstructions that are underneath that bridge, we just couldn't run sonar in there with what we had," Lentz said. 

RELATED: St. Cloud Authorities Search for Man Seen Swimming in Mississippi River

In both instances, the department needed help from a community partner who had better, more advanced technology.

And that was what eventually located the bodies of those missing men. 

"The main thing is it leads to a quick recovery," Lentz said. 

To get key footage below the surface in places like the Mississippi River, or other bodies of water with lots of debris, the department said its current technology isn't cutting it.

So now, it is reaching out to the community for help.

"To have that technology ourselves - to have the people that we could train to use it, Lentz said. "To interpret what the sonar is telling them is vital." 

It's called Side Scan Sonar, and this technology is towed by a boat and operated remotely with a video screen. Lentz said the department has even borrowed the tool from Hennepin, Crow Wing, and St. Louis Counties during other emergencies. 

"The only problem is the price tag is between $40,000 and $100,000," Lentz said. 

But through a community fundraiser and applying for federal grants, Lentz hopes an added resource on the water can bring closure during life's most difficult moments.

"It's a question of waiting hours for recovery, or waiting weeks or days and what that does to a family as they stand by with little or nothing they can do when the subject is in the water," Lentz said. 


Brett Hoffland

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