Family gives GoFundMe donations to dive team that recovered body of Thief River Falls teen who drowned

A family is turning it's worst nightmare into a story of inspiration.

GRAND FORKS — Two new flags are flying in the sky outside of the Northeast Regional Water Operations office in Grand Forks.

Those flags fly in honor of Chase Hron. The 19-year-old from Thief River Falls, Minnesota, drowned two years ago while jet skiing in Mahnomen County. After hours of searching, divers recovered his body.

"(It's) the worst nightmare that a parent could go through," Chase's father, Michael Hron, said with tears in his eyes.

A GoFundMe page was launched. Instead of the Hron family keeping the $2,600 that was raised, they decided to give it back to the water operations team for their help in recovering Chase's body, bringing closure to the family.

"We knew right away we wanted to give back to them," Hron said. "They were so professional and so gracious."


"It reflects on the impact of how we are touching the families' lives," said commander Thomas Inocencio.

Inocencio said he knew right away they could not use the money the Hron family donated for everyday expenses. Instead, they wanted to give it back to the community and built a memorial in Chase's honor. He said the two flag poles and memorial marker are to honor everyone the organization has affected.

"This memorial is not just about Chase, it's about all the other people they have rescued and recovered, it's about their families, too," Inocencio said.

As Chase's family had the honor of raising the flags for the first time, they know they are much more than just two flags.

"When they pull into their place of work and see the flag poles and memorial, they are reminded of how important they are," Hron said.

The dive team says the memorial provides a new driving force for each call.

"It's permanent, (the memorial) will always be there and give our team a reminder of what we are doing and why we are doing it," Inocencio said.

"We hope Chase would be proud of it; we know he would be," Hron said.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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