Search recovers body at Sioux Rapids

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A tragic death has stunned the Sioux Rapids community.

A search of Thursday turned up the body of Brian Tews, 52, who had gone missing on Jan. 8, under the Little Sioux River Bridge.

Officials believe Tews had fallen through the ice on a drainage outlet into the river a short distance away. With the temperature well below zero, hypothermia may have set in quickly and Tews apparently become disoriented, crawled under the bridge and died there.

Sioux Rapids Police Chief Timothy Porter said Tews had been sharing a residence with a couple in Sioux Rapids. His family members live out of the area.

He reportedly left his residence Jan. 8 at about 10:30 p.m. He was an outdoor enthusiast and often liked to walk along the river. The following Wednesday, the other residents of the home reported that he had not returned to the residence. Authorities began calling family members to try to check on Tews. Last Thursday, after he failed to show up for a scheduled meeting with a probation officer, "We knew we had a missing person," Porter said.

Deputies from Storm Lake and firefighters from Sioux Rapids came in to assist in a search sweeping the area. Officials were able to have a cell phone company "ping" Tews phone to narrow the search area. After about an hour and a half, the body was located. Officials believe it had been under the bridge for six days. The body was sent to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy to determine the cause of death, but results are not yet available.

"We didn't suspect anything suspicious. We found a set of tracks in the drainage area, so we're pretty sure he had gotten wet, and the wind chills were something like thirty below," Porter said.

"He was a good, decent guy," the chief said. "He had been here a little over a year, and mostly stuck to himself."

Tews worked at PSSI in Storm Lake, serving the Tyson plant.

According to Val Ensley, who Tews had resided with, "Anybody who met him was his best friend. We miss him so much. We're all so confused about why he had gone to walk so late at night in such awful conditions, but only he knows."

Local volunteers are hoping to assist Tews' three sons with the cost of a memorial service and cremation, as Tews apparently had no life insurance. Donations may also be made to Brian Tews Memorial Fund, Sliefert Funeral Home, 212 West Third Street, Storm Lake. Donation canisters will be set out in several area convenience stores later this week. Plans are to hold a memorial service Feb. 27, and volunteers are also trying to set up a benefit in Storm Lake.

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