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UPDATE: Police confirm deceased missing woman found in submerged van

A white van was pulled out of the waters at the Mississippi Back Channel Bridge today at about 5:40 p.m. A reporter on the scene said the van appeared to be almost beneath the bridge. (Republican-Eagle photo by John Russett)1 / 2
Onlookers watch at about 5:40 p.m. as a white van is hoisted from the waters near the Back Channel Bridge. Police have not yet confirmed if it belongs to 23-year-old missing Hager City woman Marya Christiansen. (Republican-Eagle photo by John Russett)2 / 2

UPDATE 9 p.m. -- The Pierce County Sheriff's Office has confirmed the body of missing Hager City woman Marya Christiansen was found in her submerged van, which was pulled from the Mississippi back waters around 5:40 p.m. Wednesday.

A PCSO press release states: "Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office Dive and Rescue team responded, entered the water, and verified a vehicle was present. The vehicle was pulled from the water and matched the vehicle Marya was driving. A deceased female was located inside the van and she was identified as the missing female, Marya Christiansen."

Police said the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol Unit located the vehicle, which was submerged near the Trenton Island boat launch under what is known as the back channel bridge.

Christiansen was reported missing Saturday after failing to return from a night out with friends in Red Wing. Searchers, led by volunteer non-profit search group United Legacy, organized search efforts Wednesday, using the Bluffs Bar & Grill as the home base.

Assisting the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office during the search and recovery process were Pierce County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol, Wisconsin State Patrol, Medical Examiners Office, Red Wing Police, Red Wing Fire & Rescue, Goodhue County Sheriff's Office, Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office Dive and Rescue, Minnesota BCA, Civil Air Patrol and Siewerts Towing and Recovery.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank all of those that assisted in searching for Marya and offering tips.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to cover Christiansen's funeral expenses and her two sons expenses. The page can be found at

The page states: "We are the family of a loving daughter, mother, sister, girlfriend who has passed away all too soon. We are looking to raise funds to cover the expenses of her funeral and leave something to her two beautiful children as this was so unexpected. Anything you can do to help is greatly appreciated. "


UPDATE: Republican-Eagle staff have confirmed the white van pulled out of Missisippi back channel waters is the one missing Hager City woman Marya Christiansen was believed to be driving before she was reported missing.

The van was pulled out at the back channel bridge at about 5:40 p.m. Wednesday.

A reporter on the scene said the van appeared to be almost underneath the bridge. Witnesses reported seeing a coroner at the scene and that Christiansen's boyfriend indicated it was her van.

A dive team had arrived on the scene at about 3:30 p.m.

Pierce County Sheriff Nancy Hove and several of her deputies arrived on the scene at about 2:30 p.m., along with investigators from Red Wing. Officers were seen examining an embankment between Highway 63 and the boat launch.

Christiansen was reported missing on Saturday after she didn’t return home after a night out in Red Wing with friends. Neither she nor the van she was driving has been seen since.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Red Wing Republican Eagle reporter John Russett, Red Wing Republican Eagle editor Anne Jacobson and RiverTown regional public safety reporter Mike Longaecker contributed to this report.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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