Coroner: Lavoie Cause of Death, Drowning

Updated: September 09, 2019 02:32 PM

Toxicology results are still pending, but the Midwest Medical Examiner's office says the preliminary cause of death of Jacob Michael Lavoie was drowning.

The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office and the Duluth Police Department are also still investigating.

The Duluth Police Department says the body pulled from the harbor near Grandma's Sports Garden on Friday has been positively identified as a missing college student.


21-year-old Jacob Lavoie had last been seen at Grandma's Sports Garden early Sunday morning.  Police said on Friday that a body had been pulled from the Minnesota Slip in Canal Park.

Body found in Minnesota Slip

Jacob's family said in a statement that they are devastated by the loss. 

“We are devastated by the loss of Jacob. He was our son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, and friend. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to law enforcement, the University of Minnesota Duluth, the entire Duluth community, the Inver Grove Heights community, as well as everyone far and wide for your caring and concern in helping us locate Jacob. Now that Jacob has been found, we ask for your prayers, and also ask that you respect our privacy during our time of great loss. Thank you.”

UMD Chancellor Lendley Black released a statement saying that as much as they try to be prepared for something like this, it's extremely difficult.

"UMD is such a tight community and we're concerned for Jacob's family, his friends on campus, and the faculty and staff that knew him. One of the qualities that defines UMD is the strong contentedness that exists among our community. As much as we may mourn individually for Jacob, our strength is in pulling together and leaning on each other to move forward," Black wrote.

Black said the university will reach out to students to share resources for those who are grieving in the coming days.

Lavoie’s disappearance impacted the entire community.

“You see this on the news and in other cities and you hear people go missing and it doesn't hit you as much but when it happens in your campus and community, you see a lot of people impacted,” said Zack Benz, a UMD student and print managing editor for “The Bark,” a UMD student-run news organization, in an interview Thursday before the body was found.

Tony Bronson, the director of business development for the Grandma’s Restaurant Company, said safety is a top priority in their establishments.

“We haven’t had a missing person like this before. We try to be very conscious of having a safe environment in all of our establishments. On busy night club nights we make sure we have Duluth police officers at the front door helping to card and in making good judgments of people as they’re coming in,” Bronson said Thursday.

Bronson added that at the end of night when people are leaving, they are checking for people who may be struggling and try to pair them up with a friend and make sure they get a safe ride home.

Bronson said some of the Sports Garden staff who work on the busy nights are students from the Fond du Lac Law Enforcement program and know to look for that.

UMD sent an email to the campus informing them about Lavoie's disappearance Thursday.

“Everyone seemed bummed. It hit them in a surreal type of way,” Benz said Thursday.

“The Bark” has also been keeping the campus informed. Benz added that a lot of students weren’t aware of the situation until Thursday.

"I know a lot of his personal friends, some of them worked for The Bark and they reached out and said hey can you guys share this, can you get the word out,” said Benz.

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