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Former Austin resident, nature enthusiast dies after falling in Minnesota River

Published 12:31pm Tuesday, January 28, 2014

AUSTIN — As Bruce Lindquist scoured the edges of a river Thursday in Shakopee, he already feared the worst outcome.

His 37-year-old son, Eric Lindquist — an athletic, outdoorsy, fun-loving guy and formerly of Austin — had fallen in the icy river but couldn’t get out. A search team found Eric’s body on Friday. According to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office, Eric died of drowning and hypothermia.

According to the Shakopee Police Department and Scott County Sheriff’s Office, Eric was last seen heading to the Minnesota River along Veterans Memorial Park with his ice-fishing gear. Bruce and Eric lived together Shakopee. Bruce noticed Eric wasn’t home on Wednesday night and grew concerned.

“When I came back home, at about 5 p.m., I noticed he was gone; and the ice fishing gear and the auger was gone, and his fishing pole was gone.”

Bruce later checked the river, asked if others had seen Eric and later checked the local stores and restaurants. After 10 p.m. he called authorities for help. Eric wouldn’t have left for so long without mentioning his whereabouts, Bruce added.

By Thursday afternoon, as a watercraft and chopper shined lights on the ice, Bruce had an awful feeling.

“That was about as low as I had ever felt in my life,” Bruce said. “It was cold and windy, and there was snow up to my knees. It was not fun.”

The father and son had frequently fished the popular area, which isn’t far from their home. The ice was thick in most spots, Bruce said. However, he suspects Eric may have ventured farther onto the ice to drill a new hole.

“Apparently, he might have gotten away from some of the usual holes and got a little too far out,” Bruce said.

A medical examiner has ruled Eric’s death an accident.

Despite the tragedy, Bruce spoke calmly about the situation on Monday night. He could at least find a little solace in that Eric was doing what he enjoyed.

“He was doing what he liked to do,” Bruce said.

Eric was born in Austin attended Austin Public Schools into ninth grade, in 1991, before he enrolled at New Ulm High School and graduated in 1994. Eric later graduated from Mankato State University and most recently worked as a long-haul trucker, primarily with Swift Transportation out of Phoenix, Ariz.

As a youngster, Eric was quite the athlete, Bruce said.

“Especially in youth sports, he was lightning fast,” Bruce said, and added Eric, in fifth grade, won a youth state title in track representing Austin.

Eric also played basketball, baseball, football and was particularly good at tennis. He grew very fond of most outdoor activities, especially in the winter, as well.

“He loved the outdoors,” Bruce said. “He came alive when it got cold.”

Bruce said people would describe Eric as fun, witty and lighthearted. Bruce will also be remembered by his mother, Joan Lindquist, of Grand Forks, N.D., grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

McNearney Funeral Home in Shakopee is handling funeral arrangements. Condolences may be shared at www.mcnearneyfuneralhome.com.

An obituary ran in the Monday edition of the Tribune.