MADISON, Wis. - Columbia County sheriff's deputies said they found the body of a 21-year-old Pardeeville man who was reported missing Sunday.
Mitchel Blanchard was found next to the Kilbourn Dam by divers contracted to do scheduled maintenance on the dam. Blanchard was reported missing by his family around 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Blanchard was last seen by Wisconsin Dells police officers running toward State Highway 13/16/23 early Sunday morning. That's an area near Kilbourn Dam and the Highway 13/16/23 bridge over the Wisconsin River.
Police said they were called to the Showboat Tavern at 2:30 a.m. for a disturbance, and Blanchard fled when police tried to identify him. Officers said they abandoned the pursuit after a few hundred yards.
"We had no indication that he was close to the water," Wisconsin Dells Police Chief Jody Ward said. "You have to go through a wooded area and across two parking lots to get to another wooded area that's adjacent to the river. We didn't have any indication he would be near the river."
The vest he had worn to a wedding that day was found on the shoreline above the dam.
While officers didn't speak with Blanchard or know why he ran, court records show that he was recently charged with disorderly conduct, bail jumping and possession of THC on April 11, and as terms of his bail he wasn't supposed to be on the premises of anywhere serving alcohol.
Officers commended Blanchard's family and friends who joined police in a foot search Sunday and Monday in the inclement weather.
"It is a terrible, terrible ending," Columbia County Sheriff Dennis Richards said. "But we have seen these go for many days without any closure, and as difficult as it may be we are able to get him back to his family fairly quick."
An autopsy and toxicology tests will be scheduled for this week. Authorities also plan to review cameras at the dam to see if they can find out how he went in the water.
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office was assisted by the Columbia County Dive Team, Wisconsin Dells Police Department, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Kilbourn Fire Department and Alliant Energy Company.
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