Body of missing man found in Swift Creek

Body of missing man found in Swift Creek

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The body of a missing La Crosse man is found at the bottom of Swift Creek five days after his car crashed into the water.    

The La Crosse Fire Department discovered 22-year-old Justin McElwain's body near the bridge to Isle la Plume at about 10:30 Monday morning, about 200 yards from where his car was found partially underwater just before 2 a.m. last Wednesday.

Friends say they were following McElwain home from a party before he lost control of his car and crashed into the creek.

Dive and rescue crews searched the area from 7 in the morning until dark every day since the crash before the fire department found him this morning through the use of electronic equipment.

"That is our job, that is our obligation to the community to try and expend every resource that we possibly can in trying to find Justin," said La Crosse Fire Chief Gregg Cleveland.

McElwain's father says he's seen an outpouring of support from friends, family, and city officials over the past week.

He says now that his son has been found, the healing process can begin.

"I obviously feel worse today, but I feel better. My legs and chest feel better. My heart feels better. There was a lot of unconditional love today, and my boy is home. And he's home, he's with family, he's with God, and he's out of the cold wate," said Mark McElwain.

An autopsy for McElwain is scheduled for Wednesday.

In the meantime, Mayor Tim Kabat says there will be some discussion in City Hall about putting up a guardrail on that stretch of Norplex Drive after two fatal crashes in that area in the past few years.


An empty vehicle was found mostly submerged in Swift Creek in La Crosse early Wednesday morning.

The call about the discovery near Houska Park came in just before 2 a.m.

Divers with the La Crosse Dive Unit and the La Crosse Fire Department searched the water, but didn't find anything.

Friends of the operator of the vehicle had called the police.  They indicated they were following their friend who was driving the vehicle that was now in Swift Creek and that there was no one else in the vehicle.  While following their friend they became separated due to a traffic light and then were unable to locate the individual again.

Police say they're looking for the person, or people, who might have been inside the vehicle went it went down the bank and into the water.

La Crosse Fire Department dive rescue personnel will be returning today to continue their search.

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