Mathiowetz’ wife thankful for search

SLEEPY EYE — The wife of a missing 73-year-old Sleepy Eye man expressed gratitude to everyone who has been looking for her husband since he was reported missing June 3.

“A big thank you to everybody that’s looking for him (Vincent). I truly appreciate it,” Pat Mathiowetz said June 12.

Sleepy Eye Police received a report of a missing person at 12:13 p.m. June 3. Vincent H. Mathiowetz was last seen by family leaving home in his pickup at about 8:30 a.m.

At 1:37 p.m., a vehicle belonging to Mathiowetz was found three and a half miles south of Sleepy Eye at a public water access boat landing near the Cottonwood River.

Vincent was last seen wearing blue jeans, a red t-shirt, a blue and white flannel shirt and brown work boots. He was wearing a watch and glasses.

An area search was conducted by Sleepy Eye Police and Fire Departments, the Brown County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO), a New Ulm Police Department K-9 unit, the New Ulm Fire Department and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In addition, drones were provided by the Renville County Sheriff’s Office and Bolton & Menk, Inc.

Golden Valley-based North Star Search and Rescue assisted search efforts on the river and shoreline with four handlers and four K-9 dogs including two tracking dogs and two cadaver dogs. The tracking dogs on land and the cadaver dogs on land and water all gave strong indications that Mathiowetz was in the water, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

The search area expanded east of the Highway 4 bridge. Rainfall, heavy at times, created strong river currents, low water visibility and river debris that made the search more challenging.

Following several days of rain, some of it very heavy, that caused the river to rise rapidly over flood stage, the BCSO suspended search and recovery efforts June 11.

“The river is running very fast. The current remains strong with boat navigation nearly impossible,” read a June 11 BCSO news release. “The BCSO will continue to monitor river levels daily and resume search and recovery efforts when the Cottonwood River has lowered and it is safe for personnel to return to the river.”

Jason Seidl, BCSO Chief Deputy, said searchers have the right tools for the job including the sheriff’s office boat designed for rivers that was obtained with a state grant.

“I wish we had a more definitive answer,” Seidl said. “Hopefully, the river and rain will cooperate with us and we can get back on the river soon.”

Pat Mathiowetz said Vince likes to fish, take things apart and put them back together. She said they operated an auto repair shop in Sleepy Eye, where Vince worked as a mechanic much of his life.

“He liked Mustangs. He had a brand new one in 1966,” Pat said. “He used to ice race on a slough near Sleepy Eye. His car number was BR 549.”

The couple lived on the horseshoe lakes chain near Richmond for a time before moving back to Sleepy Eye, Pat said.

“He did lots of fishing, water skiing and played softball,” Pat said. “He also liked to stay home, recycling things, putzing with old motors and things.”

Vince and Pat, raised in Comfrey, have three sons. Gregory, their oldest, is involved in real estate in Pittsburg, Pa. Their sons Gary and Troy work in New Ulm.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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