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Image caught by video camera prompts search for body at 'the Deeps' in Duluth

Dave Drozdowski of the St. Louis County Rescue Sqaud controls his cadaver dog Ike as he responds while searching for a body at the popular swimming hole "the Deeps" on Amity Creek in Duluth's Lester Park on Saturday afternoon, June 7, 2014. (Clint Austin /

A troubling image recorded by a teen’s video camera as he jumped into a popular Duluth swimming hole prompted a search involving emergency responders from several agencies on Saturday.

For three hours, the search focused on “the Deeps,” a section of Amity Creek as it flows through Lester Park. By 4 p.m., nothing had been found, said Tom Crossmon, captain with the St. Louis County Rescue Squad, but he said the search would continue downstream.

The search began after Duluth police got a call about a video that appeared to show evidence of a body below the water in the Deeps.

Brendan Peterson, 16, said he was with friends May 30 who were jumping from a tree popularly known as “the Roots” while holding a GoPro camera on a stick. He didn’t take a close look at the resulting video until about 1 a.m. Saturday.

When he ran it at a slower speed, he saw “a head and shoulders and an elbow and a hand in the water,” Peterson said.

He texted his friends with the images.

“I woke up this morning to a picture of it,” said Mark Holliday, 16, who like Peterson just finished his junior year at Duluth East High School.

Holliday’s older brother, Luke, 19, who just finished his freshman year of college, said he called Duluth police to report the images. They came and took a look, the teens said, and summoned searchers.

The video had “a target of interest, and we wanted to look and see what it was,” Crossmon said.

Officials weren’t aware of any missing people in the area, he said.

By early afternoon, Duluth police and firefighters were on the scene along with St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office and Rescue Squad personnel. Firefighters stretched yellow fire-line tape to block trails accessing the site.

Many of the rescue workers arrived from the Brighton Beach area, just a few blocks away, where a search for a missing airplane was underway.

Dave Drozdowski of the Rescue Squad began the search with the help of a cadaver dog named Ike. Drozdowski guided the dog along both sides of the fast-moving creek. The dog occasionally pawed the rocks alongside the creek.

“The dog clearly was showing some interest, but nothing concrete yet,” Crossmon said later.

Crossmon and other personnel continued the search, using a remote-operated vehicle to take images underwater. Divers from the Superior/Douglas County Dive Rescue Team arrived and were in the water by 3 p.m.

Peterson, who had arrived at the scene with friends, was ushered to the creek to show personnel about where he had been when he captured the images. Still, nothing turned up.

The cadaver dog was being used in the downstream search, Crossmon said, but as of 6:30 p.m. no evidence had turned up. Crossmon said it was a body probably would have been swept downstream since May 30.

The Deeps has been the scene of tragic accidents in the past, most recently in August 2011 when 13-year-old Jefferson Bowen Jr. of Duluth was swept away by a current. His body was found in Lake Superior five days later.