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Police respond to drowning in Big River, bulldozer accident

BLACKWELL – A 53-year-old De Soto man was found dead in the Big River early Monday morning just off of Vineland Road and, in an unrelated incident on Saturday, a man was saved after his bulldozer overturned onto him.

According to officials with the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department, the drowning victim was found on a private campground near Blackwell.

“I received a call from dispatch just before 4 a.m.,” said St. Francois County Sheriff Dan Bullock. “Some campers had been at the campground fishing and had found the man floating in the river. The campers said he had been drinking alcohol the night before. Evidently, everyone went to bed besides him.”

The campers got up early Monday morning to run their trout lines, Bullock said, and found the man floating in the river.

“The man’s cause of death appears to be accidental drowning,” Bullock said. “We had detectives on the scene investigating the death and we are treating it like a homicide until we get the coroner’s and the pathology report back.”

In an unrelated incident on Saturday, the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call in which a man was trapped underneath a bull dozer.

The incident occurred on Brickeey Road in French Village.

“Junior Bender was building a pond and the bull dozer he was using turned over on top of him,” Bullock said. “He was trapped underneath it. Some relatives of Bender’s and the fire department were able to lift the dozer enough to get Bender out from underneath it.”

Bullock said once Bender’s condition was stabilized he was flown by Air Evac to St. John’s Mercy Center.

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