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first on State Medical Examiner's Office issues ruling in July's drowning in the Upper Iowa River near Decorah

Posted: Thu, Sep 6, 2018 2:32 PM

The State Medical Examiner's Office has completed its autopsy in the case involving a Florida woman who died in July on the Upper Iowa River near Decorah.

65-year-old Susan Ann Fechhelm of St. Petersburg, Florida died around 2:45 Sunday afternoon, July 22nd, on the Upper Iowa River near the Tatro Airport.  Fechhelm was by herself in a kayak and was believed to have been in distress, although no witnesses observed her kayak capsizing. She was wearing a life jacket when she left the canoe access, however the life jacket came partially off.

Kayakers found Fechhelm near the shoreline and attempted to provide immediate medical attention.  She was eventually transported to Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah, where she was pronounced dead.  The State Medical Examiner's Office in Ankeny was asked to do an autopsy to determine if any other factors contributed to the drowning.

The Medical Examiner's Office has signed a death certificate saying Fechhelm died from an accidental drowning.  No other factors were discovered which led to the death.