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Father of man who drowned says son was 'good kid'

Steven James Franek

The father of Steven James Franek of Moorhead, who drowned Wednesday after jumping into the Red River in an apparent attempt to elude police, said Thursday that his son was "a good kid" who went down a troubled road.

"We thought he was out of it, but obviously something happened, and we don't know what the hell happened," said his father, Steve L. Franek of Dilworth. "I don't know what to say."

Court records show the 23-year-old Franek had an active warrant for his arrest in Clay County related to the March 2011 burglaries of four garage units at 3450 8th Ave. S. in Moorhead. The warrant was issued Sept. 29.

Fargo police say an officer investigating a report of a suspicious male at about 4:15 a.m. Wednesday saw Steven Franek with bolt cutters near two bicycles outside the Petro Serve USA station at NP Avenue and Second Street North. Franek fled from the officer and eventually jumped into the river in an apparent attempt to swim to Moorhead, Lt. Jeff Skuza said.

A dive team recovered Franek's body shortly before 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Steve Franek said his son was engaged to be married with a baby on the way.

"And it just hurts. Everything just hurts," he said in a phone interview.

He said his son loved to hunt and fish and was a good athlete who wrestled and played football and basketball but "started going down a little troubled road" in high school.

Court records and Forum archives show Steven Franek was cited numerous times for minor consuming/possessing alcohol from 2007 to 2010. He had convictions in Clay County for felony burglary and misdemeanor theft and assault.

Steven Franek had a sister, two brothers and a large extended family in the Fargo-Moorhead area, his father said, adding that the death has been "very tough on everyone."

An autopsy was scheduled Thursday morning in Bismarck.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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