A family paddling trip turned tragic when a 55-year-old Iowa woman drowned after her kayak overturned Saturday evening on Hawk Creek, roughly three miles southwest of Sacred Heart.

According to the Renville County Sheriff’s office, Diane Bigler-Hagenow was kayaking with her husband, John Hagenow, her son and two others at approximately 5:30 p.m. when she capsized.

Though wearing a wet suit and life jacket, authorities suspect that Bigler-Hagenow was unable to surface due to the strong current that pinned her against a fallen trees limbs and other debris, in which she also became entangled.




A family paddling trip turned tragic when a 55-year-old Iowa woman drowned after her kayak overturned Saturday evening on Hawk Creek, roughly three miles southwest of Sacred Heart.
According to the Renville County Sheriff’s office, Diane Bigler-Hagenow was kayaking with her husband, John Hagenow, her son and two others at approximately 5:30 p.m. when she capsized.
Though wearing a wet suit and life jacket, authorities suspect that Bigler-Hagenow was unable to surface due to the strong current that pinned her against a fallen trees limbs and other debris, in which she also became entangled.
According to the Star Tribune, Hagenow threw a rope to his wife and was able to pull one of her arms out of the water, but could not manage to free her body.
Emergency services were called to respond to the incident at 6:01 p.m. and with the aid of a rescue boat were able to recover the body from Hawk Creek approximately thirty minutes later.
According to Hawk Creek Watershed coordinator Cory Netland, Bigler-Hagenow was a level three certified river kayaker with the training and equipment to address all emergency situations.  
“Despite being prepared, the incredible power of the water was too much to overcome,” he said.
Netland noted that the river was flowing at 1,500 cubic per second (cfs)?and said it was ill-advised to float Hawk Creek when it was running at over 500 cfs for those not certified a whitewater kayaker.
Bigler-Hagenow had traveled to the area to visit her son, Southwest Minnesota State University’s men’s head basketball coach, Brad Bigler, over the weekend.
Hagenow told the Star that his wife was a “lady who liked to live each day to the fullest.” She had worked as a nurse at Mercy Hospital in Iowa.
For information on real-time flow data see: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/waters/csg/index.html