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Boy missing after jumping into Duluth's 'Deeps'

Rescue personnel scan the swollen waters of Amity Creek on Tuesday in Duluth while searching for a 13-year-old boy who was swept away by the strong currents near the Deeps. (Clint Austin /

Rescue crews searched into the night Tuesday for a 13-year-old boy who witnesses say was taken by the current in a rain-swollen swimming area on Amity Creek.

Jefferson Anthony Bowen Jr. reportedly jumped into the water near the section of Amity Creek known as "the Deeps." His jump was not accidental nor was it from high on the rocks, said Tom Crossmon, captain of the St. Louis County Search and Rescue Squad.

"He jumped very close to the surface of the water," he said.

A friend reportedly jumped in after Bowen but lost sight of him, and after officers arrived shortly after 4 p.m., they told onlookers to scan the water below for a boy wearing blue shorts and black tennis shoes.

Connie Sylvester, who lives nearby, was in the area before emergency personnel arrived and said she tried to help after a woman saw her and started yelling.

"I went down to a rock and started watching the water," Sylvester said.

She said she realized it was dangerous because the water was so high.

"I've lived here forever and never seen (the water) like this," she said. "This is not a place to play today."

Crossmon said the

3 inches of rain Duluth received early Tuesday morning contributed to high water levels and a fast current.

"It's an incredible amount of water," he said.

Although there was an early report that Bowen had been seen farther down the river, after 90 minutes of searching the full stretch of the river emergency crews shifted their focus to the Deeps area.

"It was our belief that he would stay right in the water nearby ... because it would be very difficult to stay buoyant due to the way the water goes over (the rocks)," Crossmon said.

Crews used a dive mannequin to retrace the path Bowen might have taken in the water, and it confirmed rescuers' suspicions when it became caught in a nearby eddy of water far under the surface.

Nearly 30 emergency personnel from Duluth police, fire, U.S. Coast Guard, St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, St. Louis County Search and Rescue, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota State Patrol and the Border Patrol were assisting in the search.

A rescue dive team came but Crossmon said the conditions were too dangerous for them to dive.

Crossmon estimated that the water level had dropped about 8 inches since he arrived on the scene. He said as the water dropped further it would help recovery efforts.

Crossmon said they planned to bring in lights so they could continue the search overnight, working their way down the river.

The Deeps has long been known as an area where people jump from cliffs into Amity Creek. Three people were injured there last summer, including a man who hit his head and had to be hospitalized.

The city pruned tree branches that were being used to climb as high as 70 feet above the water?s surface, but city officials at that time refused to close off the cliff-jumping point.

?Because of the backwoods nature of the area ? it?s not realistic to expect 24-hour patrols,? the News Tribune reported last August.