Sad news today. I learned of the tragic passing of one of the female students at the school where I teach. She was always very kind and sweet when I met her in the hallway. Please pray for her and for her family. Hard times ahead for them.
Here's the story...
2 die in North Shore river's waterfalls
By PAUL WALSH and LARRY OAKES, Star Tribune
Last update: June 26, 2008 - 6:20 PM
Two people ending a daylong outing with a Maple Grove church group along a hard-flowing North Shore river with cascading waterfalls waded in to wash up, were pulled over the falls by a strong current and sent a half-mile or more to their deaths.
Climbing camp participant Andrea Evans, 17, of Rosemount, and counselor Julie Steiskal, 29, of Maple Lake, Minn., died shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday in the Temperance River near Hwy. 61, according to the Cook County sheriff's office.
"It seems that ... an undercurrent started to take Andrea away," Shelly Evans, Andrea's mother, said this afternoon after being briefed by the sheriff's office. "The counselor was holding on to the rock and holding on to her, and they went over the falls and into the gorge."
The group of three adults and five kids from the Church of the Open Door group was wrapping up a day hike to a rocky promontory known as Carlton Peak, said Sheriff Mark Falk. The hikers waded in to rinse off in a pool that empties into a gorge full of waterfalls and rapids, where the Temperance tumbles toward Lake Superior.
"They were bathing in knee-deep water, Julie had some shampoo, and they were going into chest-deep water to dunk themselves," Falk said. "It appears Andrea slipped, and Julie was trying to hang onto her, but unfortunately the current was too strong, and it swept them both into the gorge."
The pair went through a series of rapids and over several waterfalls as witnesses ran to a lower pool about a half-mile downstream. Those witnesses watched as the victims' bodies tumbled over a final waterfall and into the pool, where they floated, lifeless. Eight to 10 minutes passed from when the victims were swept away until their bodies emerged below.
Bystanders, including a Becker, Minn., minister unaffiliated with the church group, dragged the bodies from the pool and tried in vain to revive them. Similar efforts by first-responders and a nearby deputy also failed.
River sweeps 2 to their deaths
Counselor and camper die on North Shore trip
By Nick Ferraro and Bao Ong
Article Last Updated: 06/27/2008 12:59:38 AM CDT
A daylong hiking trip along the North Shore ended in tragedy Wednesday when a 17-year-old Rosemount girl and a 29-year-old Maple Lake, Minn., woman were swept away by the rain-swollen Temperance River and drowned.
The victims were Andrea Evans, who would have been a senior next year at Trinity School at River Ridge in Eagan, and Julie Steiskal, a volunteer youth counselor from Maple Lake.
At the time of the accident, they were wading in the river, which was high and fast-flowing from recent heavy rains.
The two were on a camping trip for children with parents in prison.
A group of three adults and five youngsters was visiting Temperance River State Park for the day, Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk said. On the way back to their campground in Finland, Minn., they stopped near Overlook 7 to "take a dip and clean up," he said.
About 8:30 p.m., Evans apparently slipped, the sheriff said. Steiskal tried to save the girl by grabbing her hand while grasping a rock with her other hand.
"The current was just too strong, and it pulled them both into the river and into the gorge," said Falk.
He said the rocky gorge includes a series of waterfalls and rapids.
Members of the youth group and bystanders found the bodies at the end of the gorge, about a quarter-mile away, Falk said. Efforts to resuscitate the two failed, and they were pronounced dead at the scene about 9 p.m.
Andrea's mother, Shelly Evans, described her daughter as a peacemaker who was devoted to her family.
"I was a single parent a long time, and Andrea was everything in this house," she said.
Andrea became involved with Angel Tree Ministry, a co-sponsor of the camp, after her father was sent to an Illinois prison.
"(The ministry) would take her to camp every summer and bring Christmas gifts to her every year," Evans said.
Shelly Evans' moved her family, including Andrea's two younger siblings, from North Minneapolis to Cambridge, Minn., when Andrea started high school.
The next year, when Evans came to Trinity in Eagan as a sophomore, she worked hard and "was incredibly tenacious in overcoming any gaps in her background," headmaster Bill Wacker said.
Evans' 13-year-old brother, Jashaun, and 12-year-old sister, Nicole, also went to Trinity last year.
Andrea's hard work paid off and she made the honor roll, her mother said.
Her classes at Trinity included calculus, computer programming, Spanish and drama. She also competed on the varsity softball team her sophomore and junior years.
A scholarship to Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich., was waiting for Evans after graduation, school officials said.
Evans had expressed a desire to become a teacher or lawyer one day.
On a profile questionnaire that incoming seniors fill out, Evans described herself as "a hard worker, love to learn, nice and determined."
Wacker remembered Evans as friendly and bubbly, but most of all, he recalled how "her bright smile would light up the hallway."
"She was a popular girl," he said. "There will be a big hole in our hearts for all of next year."
For the class of about 60 seniors, the loss will be difficult because all the students know each other well, school spokeswoman Rochelle Platter said.
"It's a real deep loss for our school and families," Platter said.
Evans worked alongside her mother at a Perkins Restaurant in Edina. "She just got promoted to serve and was supposed to start serving this week when she got back from camp," Shelly Evans said.
Steiskal had worked as a receptionist at Church of the Open Door in Maple Grove since 2004, said Sandi Lubrant, communications manager at the church, which was another co-sponsor of the camping trip.
Steiskal volunteered to be a camp counselor because the role combined her passions for kids, the outdoors and photography, Lubrant said.
"I saw her the day she left, and she was so happy," Lubrant said. "She was just glowing."
The river has been the scene of four other drowning-related deaths since 1996, the Cook County sheriff said. The most recent death occurred in June 2001, when a 22-year-old Finnish man died of head injuries after he slipped and fell into the river while climbing down a steep rock face.
Shelly Evans' co-workers at Minco, a Fridley-based manufacturing company where she works full time, have set up a memorial fund for the family. Donations to the Memorial for Andrea Evans can be made at any Wells Fargo branch.
Evans, Andrea age 17 of Rosemount. Student at Trinity at River ridge School. Survived by her parents, Johnnie & Shelly Evans; step father, Ronald McClure; brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends. Memorials are preferred to the Andrea Evans Memorial Funds, C/O Wells Fargo Bank. Visitation Sunday, 5-8 pm. Service Monday, 11 am, with visitation 1 hour before, all at Washburn-McReavy Eden Prairie Chapel 952-975-0400 7625 Mitchell Road (1 blk N. of Hwy 5)
Published in the Star Tribune on 6/28/2008.