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Law Enforcement search for drowning victim

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:04 PM CDT
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Pennington County, SD (KOTA) – The victim in Wednesday afternoon’s drowning has been identified as 57-year-old Terry Westergaard of Rapid City.

Westergaard had been swimming near his boat at Pactola Reservoir, went underwater, and never resurfaced.

The body was found in water approximately 130 feet deep.

Westergaard was finally brought to the surface at 11 pm.

Two divers from the Rapid City, Pennington County Water Rescue Team were transported for medical evaluation, due to the depth and water conditions of the dive. Both divers are doing fine.

The Game, Fish and Park’s tow-fish sonar, and “Fisher Finder,” a remotely operated vehicle, were used to find Westergaard’s body.

“Without this specialized equipment, the recovery could have taken weeks. Potentially we might never have been able to recover the body in such deep water,” said Pennington County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brian Mueller in a press release. “We thank all the agencies in support of this effort. We grieve for the family at this time of loss.”

Westergaard was a partner at Bangs McCullen Law Firm.

Thursday, the firm posted on Facebook, saying in part “Terry was kind, compassionate, and an exceptional attorney. He was a dedicated public servant, and, most importantly, a loving and devoted husband, father, and grandfather. We are grateful to have had him in our lives and send our support, love, and prayers to his family.”

At around 2:15 pm Wednesday, July 28, law enforcement were alerted to a drowning at Pactola Reservoir. The report said that a man had been swimming near his boat when he disappeared under the water and did not re-surface. His location was in a portion of the reservoir that is 100-feet-deep.

Pennington County Search and Rescue, Rapid City/Pennington County Water Rescue team, Game, Fish & Parks, Johnson Siding Volunteer Fire Department, and other agencies are all currently working on this deep-water recovery.

Among the resources being used on scene, include the Game, Fish and Park’s tow-fish sonar, and the “Fisher Finder” - a remotely-operated vehicle which can be helpful in these difficult underwater situations.

The boating public is asked to stay away from the area near the dam and to give first responders plenty of space to work.

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