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Victim indentified as Duluth youth in Jay Cooke drowning

CARLTON -- A hot summer day in the park turned deadly for a Duluth teen on Saturday afternoon. John Lawrence Butler III, 19, of Duluth, reportedly drowned while swimming below the Munger Trail Bridge over the St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Pa...

CARLTON -- A hot summer day in the park turned deadly for a Duluth teen on Saturday afternoon.
  John Lawrence Butler III, 19, of Duluth, reportedly drowned while swimming below the Munger Trail Bridge over the St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park, near Carlton.
According to witnesses, Butler was swimming off shore at around 2:30 p.m., in a fairly strong current, when he began to wave his arms in a plea for help.
"We just happened to be walking down there at the same time, and he was bobbing up and down," said witness Alyson Mielke of Cloquet. "We weren't sure if he was just having fun, but then we heard him cry for help, so we knew he was in trouble."
Mielke yelled for help to Aaron Carroll, a senior-to-be at Cloquet High School, and Carroll jumped off the steep rocks in an attempt to save Butler, while Molly Rosen ran to get Mielke's cellular phone.
Mielke estimated that Butler was only 10 to 20 feet from shore, but Carroll had problems pulling him in, so several others jumped in to help.
After pulling him to shore, an unidentified female started CPR on Butler, who was not breathing at the time.
Meanwhile, Travis Denzel had used Mielke's cellular phone to dial 911, and within five minutes rescue squads from the Cloquet and Carlton ambulance crews and the Carlton County Sheriff's Department were on the scene. Minutes later, St. Mary's Life Flight secured a landing zone and transported Butler to Duluth.
According to a press release from the Carlton County Sheriff's Department, "county squads were later advised that the victim, identified as John Lawrence Butler III, 19, of Duluth, had passed away."
Mielke thought that Butler and a group of friends were jumping off the rocks into the river but was not sure what had happened to the group with which he was swimming. She added that paramedics said he had a collapsed lung.
"The water was just so deep where he was, he couldn't do anything to help himself," added Mielke.
Mike Sylvester is editor of the Cloquet Pine Knot, a Murphy McGinnis newspaper.

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