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Red River search for possible jumper resumes

Delano Gaking's grandmother stood on the Kennedy Bridge on Wednesday afternoon watching boat crews on the Red River drag hooks along an abutment below her.

She looked on from roughly the same spot where a passing motorist saw her 19-year-old grandson outside the railing early Tuesday. When the motorist looked back, Gaking was gone.

His grandma was one of about a dozen relatives and friends who gathered Wednesday atop a levee in Grand Forks to watch four boats search the water downstream from the bridge.

"We're still trying to make sense of all this because we don't know why he would do it over an argument," said Gaking's mother, Kristen Gaking of Fort Totten, N.D.

Gaking reportedly left Riverside Manor, a Grand Forks apartment building just south of the bridge, after an early morning argument with a friend who he was staying with. In responding to a call from the passing motorist, police found some of Gaking's belongings on the bridge.

Because no one reported actually seeing anyone drop from the bridge into the water 25 to 30 feet below, the possibility that Gaking didn't jump into the river lingers.

"We're still hoping, having some kind of hope," Kristen Gaking said.

Jeff Decoteau, Kristen Gaking's cousin, emphasized that Gaking may still be alive.

"If he's a good swimmer, who knows," he said. "Maybe he's mad at the world, and he don't want to talk to nobody."

Gaking's mom described her son, who grew up in Fort Totten, as outgoing and funny, the type of person "that got along with everyone." She said he was bipolar and would sometimes become depressed.

Boat crews have searched as far as a half-mile downstream of the bridge that links Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, but they've mainly been looking just below the bridge, using sonar and drag hooks. Those same methods will be used from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, said Cpl. Thomas Inocencio of the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department.

If there's no resolution by day's end, Inocencio said, searchers will discuss plans for Friday. If the search goes on for a while, crews may eventually scale back their efforts, said Lt. Jim Remer of the Grand Forks Police Department.

Under the right circumstances, Inocencio said, a body would rise to the surface within a week to 10 days given the river's water temperature.

Police are asking the public to call the department at (701) 787-8000 if they saw anything unusual near the bridge early Tuesday or if they know where Gaking is.


The Grand Forks Herald and the Echo Press are owned by Forum Communications Company.