Mohamed Fofana and Haysem Sani
St. Paul Fire Department's photo of the collapse location at Lilydale Park.
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Fire and rescue crews have recovered the body of a 10-year-old who had been missing following a mudslide at Lilydale Park in St. Paul on Wednesday afternoon.
Mohamed Fofana, part of a 4th grade field trip looking for fossils, is remembered as kind and friendly by his large, extended family.
Crews had searched into the evening Wednesday before calling it off because of the dangerous and muddy conditions. After consulting with geologists, they began the search again on Thursday morning around 10 a.m.
Shortly before noon, firefighters made the difficult announcement. "We extricated him from the pit in which all the kids were located. Unfortunately he is deceased," St. Paul's Asst. Fire Chief Jim Smith said.
Smith said the wooded and muddy bank was much more accessible by the light of day on Thursday, and that the conditions aided in the search and recovery immensely.
Fofana's parents and relatives arrived in droves on Thursday morning, after a night of prayer. "We keep praying because we believe in the almighty, that he makes miracles happen. That's what we're hoping for now," the boy's uncle Mohamed Bah said as crews began their search.
As the family left shortly after noon, they left with heavy hearts, on their way to grieve with Mohamed Fofana's parents at their Minneapolis home. "We were hoping for a miracle but this is what almighty God has already willed to happen, but we appreciate the effort. We can't say anything because as we believe as Muslims, from God we came and from god we return. So what happened here is natural. We can't blame anybody," Bah concluded.
On Friday, Governor Mark Dayton will attend a gathering at Peter Hobart Elementary School to honor the victims.
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