The body of missing St. Thomas student Dan Zamlen has reportedly been found in the Mississippi River, a family friend said this afternoon. The death of Eveleth student Dan Zamlen has been declared an accidental drowning.
Friends of the Virginia High School graduate had a mixed reaction to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's ruling released on Wednesday.
"I honestly don't really know what to think about it," said Courtney Anderson, who graduated with Zamlen in 2008.
Anderson, studying at Bemidji State University, spent a day and a half helping Zamlen's family and working on the search and rescue operation in St. Paul, where 19-year-old Zamlen, a student at the University of St. Thomas, went missing as he walked along the Mississippi River in the early hours of April 5.
His body was discovered in the river by a worker at the Ford Motor Co. plant nearly a month later, on May 1.
Anderson said she had reservations about Wednesday's news.
"I have always known Dan to be a very careful person," she explained. "He had a good head on his shoulders and I just find it startling that the autopsy came back as an accident. It just doesn't seem to me that the puzzle pieces are really fitting correctly."
St. Paul police say the investigation into Zamlen's disappearance and death is now closed.
However, Sgt. Paul Schnell tells KMSP-TV that police are now looking into who supplied the 18-year-old with alcohol before he went missing. Police say he might have obtained it on his own, or gotten it at a store, the party or other sources.
Schnell says toxicology reports from Zamlen's autopsy are not public information and won't be released.
Britni Felix, a 2008 Virginia High School graduate, also participated in the search effort for Zamlen.
Studying alongside Anderson at Bemidji State, Felix said she was shocked by the verdict of accidental drowning.
"I guess I had thought there was foul play involved, but it's nice to know someone didn't harm him and he didn't suffer pain inflicted by someone else," she said. "The main thing that will help people move on and deal with their grief is knowing that they have a body; and now with some answers, it will probably help even more."
Through a police spokesman, Zamlen's family indicated they did not wish to be contacted.
On FindDan.org, the Web site set up to coordinate the search effort, parents Dale and Sally Zamlen and Dan's sister, Andrea, thanked the community for its help since Dan's disappearance.
"We will never know all the people who volunteered in the search effort, participated in a benefit or offered thoughts and prayers for our dear son and his family," read the statement.
"Although we are unable to understand why he had to leave so soon, we know he accomplished much in his 18 years and will always be remembered and dearly missed by many."