Rapid City man identified as Pactola drowning victim

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photo courtesy: Pennington County Sheriff’s Office

PENNINGTON COUNTY, S.D. — The victim in Wednesday’s drowning at Pactola Reservoir has been identified as 57-year-old Terry Westergaard of Rapid City.

“Without this specialized equipment, the recovery could have taken weeks. Potentially we might never have been able to recover the body in such deep water,” says Pennington County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brian Mueller. “We thank all the agencies in support of this effort. We grieve for the family at this time of loss.”

Two divers from the Rapid City Pennington County Water Rescue Team were transported for medical evaluation, due to the depth and water conditions of the dive. There were no other injuries and both divers are doing fine.

Westergaard, an attorney who had served as president of the South Dakota State Bar, was saluted by his colleagues from the Pennington County States Attorney’s Office.


UPDATE (7/29/21 @ 4:30 a.m.): The body of the drowning victim was recovered around 11 p.m. Wednesday night.

Agencies responding to the incident included Pennington County Search and Rescue, Rapid City Pennington County Water Rescue, Game, Fish and Parks, Johnson Siding Volunteer Fire Department, U.S. Forest Service, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, and the Rapid City Fire Department.


UPDATE (7/28/21 @ 9:20 p.m.): The victim has been located at a depth over 100 feet.

However, first responders are saying that it may take several hours, possibly into the early hours of Thursday, to recover the body.

NewsCenter1 will have more information. Check back for details.


PACTOLA RESERVOIR, S.D. — First responders are searching for a man who drowned Wednesday afternoon in Pactola Reservoir.

Around 2:15 p.m., a call came in of a man reportedly swimming near his boat. Witnesses say he went under water and did not re-surface. He was near the dam face in water over 100 feet deep.

Pennington County Search and Rescue, Rapid City/Pennington County Water Rescue team, Game, Fish and Parks, Johnson Siding Volunteer Fire Department, and other agencies are all working in the deep water recovery.

The boating public is asked to stay away from the dam at Pactola Reservoir as a search and recover is underway.

Resources on scene include the Game, Fish and Park’s tow-fish sonar and the “Fish Finder,” a remotely operated vehicle helpful in these underwater situations.

NewsCenter1 will have more information. Check back for details.

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