Student pulled from Mississippi River identified

Police respond to Swift Creek around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday

La Crosse police have released the name of the 21-year-old driver who died after her car fell through the ice and went into the Mississippi River on Wednesday.

Police said Ellen Marie “Ellie” Ahmann was the driver of the vehicle. She was living in Winona and was a finance major at Winona State University. Police said her hometown was Woodbury, Minnesota.

Police said an autopsy for Ahmann was originally scheduled for Thursday has been postponed until Friday.

The La Crosse Police Department are continuing their investigation.


One person is dead after being pulled from a car that went into the Mississippi River early Wednesday morning.

La Crosse Police and Fire Departments responded around 1:30 a.m. after someone reported tire tracks on the ice and a hole in the water.

Due to poor weather conditions and lack of daylight, the rescue turned into a recovery mission that started around 9:00 a.m.

“I just saw cones out on the ice,” said Jan Zenker, a La Crosse resident.

Zenker heard about the recovery on her scanner.  When she got to the scene, she saw the efforts unfold.

“They started using chainsaws and were cutting through the ice,” said Zenker.


Authorities were working to recover a car that had gone into the water at Swift Creek near the intersection of Norplex Drive and Jackson.

Sgt. Randy Rank with the La Crosse Police Department said, “The call came in from another city employee that noticed the tracks going over the bank.”

Rank said the embankment is about a 40-foot drop.

“The vehicle was still on its tires when it landed on the ice.  You can see the tire tracks.  It made a left turn and tried to continue driving on the ice on Swift Creek.  It went a short distance and fell through the ice.”

The ice wasn’t thick enough to hold the car.

Rank said, “Where the vehicle went through there were about 3 inches.  Swift Creek has a lot of current through it, which does not put a lot of ice on.  This vehicle was kind of in the middle of the creek and fell through.”

A La Crosse County diver attached cables to the car and then a tow company pulled it from the water.

The driver did not survive.

“At this point, there was one person recovered in the vehicle once it was removed from the ice.  That person is deceased.”

Authorities say an autopsy for the victim is scheduled for Thursday. 

At this point, officials cannot speculate if alcohol was a factor in the incident.  The recovery mission took about 12 hours altogether.