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Man who drowned in Lake Manawa ID'd as Offutt master sergeant

Man who drowned in Lake Manawa ID'd as Offutt master sergeant

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COUNCIL BLUFFS — Officials identified the man who drowned Sunday in Lake Manawa as Master Sgt. Jeremiah Beckmann of Offutt Air Force Base.

Beckmann, 39, was on active duty working for the Air Force Weather Agency. The Council Bluffs Police Department identified Beckmann on Tuesday after an autopsy.

Emergency personnel recovered Beckmann’s body from the lake on Monday. Police said Beckmann and Master Sgt. Benjamin Ferguson, 36, were crossing the lake in a canoe Sunday afternoon when it hit a thin layer of ice and tipped over.

Ferguson, who also works for the Offutt weather agency, was able to swim to shore, but Beckmann did not make it. Ferguson was taken to Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs; he was discharged Tuesday.

In a statement Tuesday, Air Force Weather Agency commander Col. William Carle said: “My deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, and fellow Airmen who served with him. The Air Force is a close-knit family, and the loss of one of our own affects all of us.”

Firefighters from Council Bluffs and Omaha, as well as employees of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, searched for Beckmann until 5:30 p.m. Sunday, when the recovery effort was called off because of darkness. The searchers returned to the lake at 8 a.m. Monday and worked in heavy rain and wind.

Lake Manawa is a shallow 772-acre oxbow lake of the Missouri River. According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the lake has a maximum depth of 11 feet.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1272, kevin.cole@owh.com

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