Family identifies Wisconsin River victim as Madison College instructor

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PRAIRIE DU SAC (WKOW) — A Madison family is grieving the loss of a man who went missing trying to save his kids in the Wisconsin River.

Boaters found his body Sunday morning south of Mazomanie, hours before dive teams were planning to head back into the water to search for him.

Sunday Afternoon, the family identified the man as Kou Her of Madison.

They say he was an instructor at Madison Area Technical College and very involved in the Madison Hmong community, being one of the hosts and planners of the Hmong New Year.

They also thanked all of the agencies who searched for him Saturday.

“We were hoping for a miracle,” Lieutenant James Hodges with the Sauk County Sheriff’s Office said. “Hoping that he would come back up the shoreline, that he got lost and you know we would find him later.”

Less than 24 hours after going missing, the Hers have closure.

According Hodges, Her went out to rescue his kids Saturday morning, after the three had gone too far out.

Hodges says his efforts weren’t in vain.

“He was able to redirect one of them back to shore, but when he went back out for the other two, he got caught up in the fast current and went under and was not seen again,” he said.

Hodges said Her’s wife had gone out to help as well and was dragged downstream with the other two kids.

They had to be brought back to shore by rescue teams.

The current was relentless Saturday morning with the dam flowing at full strength, but nearby fisherman say they would have done the same thing as him, in that situation.

Mike Sahli and his friends often fish below the dam on the Wisconsin River.

“If that’s what it meant, I would try. But whenever you get into that situation. I’m sure a million thoughts go through your head,” Sahli said. “If it’s your own kid, some of those innate responses kick in and you have to.”

Sahli and his friends say Saturday was the first time they’ve seen dive teams out.

“My regards to the family, and best wishes,” Sahli said.

Hodges says the last time there was a drowning south of the dam was 10 years ago.

He said he and his team did their best to console the family.

“I just offered up to them that as a testament to the victim, he died showing the most fatherly of love, trying to rescue his children,” Hodges said.

The family says they are making funeral arrangements at this time.

Francisco Almenara

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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