Family of missing man continues search 143 days on

SPRING GREEN, Wis. — Jackie Johnson-Kruse starts many of her days on the Wisconsin River, searching for closure. She last saw her son Parker nearly five months ago when a day with friends on the river turned tragic.

Donning many layers, Johnson-Kruse spends hours each week in a boat loaned to her by a local man, scouring the bottom of the Wisconsin River with a high-tech scanner given to her for free, searching for any remnant of her 22-year-old son.

Parker Kruse went missing in the river on July 3, falling into the water while trying to help a boater in distress. His mother said the courageous act was perfectly in line with her son’s character.

“He was always helping people, and it’s the kind of person he was,” Johnson-Kruse said. “He was always willing to help somebody”

“Parker was an extraordinary kid,” his godmother, Janna Johnson-Fuchs, added.

The local fire department spent about a week searching for Kruse but eventually needed to move on. Johnson-Kruse and her sisters stepped up to the plate, learning to navigate the waters Parker disappeared in.

“We were searching every day up until I had to go back to work on November 1 basically,” Johnson-Kruse said. “I just felt if we didn’t step up and take it upon ourselves, who would, you know?”

The surrounding community has stepped up too. Friends, family, and strangers came together in the wake of Parker’s disappearance, conducting their own searches, buying outdoor gear, and being there for Kruse’s family.

“It just makes a mother proud,” Johnson-Kruse said. “The tremendous support from the community and strangers and just family and friends has been just wonderful.”

It’s her hope that her efforts on the water will eventually help others.

 “This isn’t going to be the last tragedy that happens in the Wisconsin River, and with this, with what we’ve learned from this we hope to be able to help another family in need,” she said.