By JEFFREY JACKSON

Press managing editor

ST. CLOUD -- The body of an Owatonna High School graduate who had been missing for nearly a month was found in the Mississippi River Wednesday afternoon -- the very day that the search for him resumed, his father said.

Scot Baek Radel, 21, was reported missing by his roommates on Feb. 2. The roommates last heard from the missing business student after he left a downtown St. Cloud bar around 11:30 p.m. Feb. 1. The search for Radel was called off after his hat was found Feb. 14 near the dam by the university.

Radel's body was found in the river at about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday in 11 feet of water approximately 300 feet from where investigators speculated he might have entered the river, said his father Allan Radel of Owatonna.

"It appears that he swam as hard and as fast as he could until he could swim no farther," Allan Radel said.

St. Cloud Police Chief Dennis Ballantine told reporters there was "no evidence of foul play," and that there were no obvious signs of injury to the body.

Radel's wallet, with money inside, was found on his body, as were his cell phone, keys and watch.

"Now we have to figure out how he ended up being in that river," Ballantine said. "I don't know if we'll ever find out why, but we will follow up on evidence that comes in."

Allan Radel said a private investigator that he has hired will also continue to investigate what happened to his son.

"We have to go through things with (the investigator) and the dive team. We don't have the answer to the puzzle, to why he was in the river," Allan Radel said. "We're working on that. That investigation will continue."

The search was resumed Wednesday, employing companies from Pennsylvania and Canada that Allan Radel had hired after the initial search was called off last month. An underwater camera located his body.

"We started on the river today, using the best technology and best equipment we could get our hands on," Allan Radel said Wednesday. "We coordinated the best possible effort we could put together ' Nothing was held back. Everybody was full guns ahead in a coordinated effort to help solve this most damnable puzzle."

The initial search was called off after rescue teams found a baseball cap in the Mississippi River that matched the North Carolina Tar Heels cap worn by Scot Radel at the time of his disappearance. When the cap was found, the family made a decision to change the scope of the search from finding the man to looking for a body.

"We found his hat in the river, and with the other evidence we're calling off all further searches," Allan Radel said at the time. "Now we're looking for the body."

Although news of the body's discovery brought some closure to the incident for the Radels, family members still had mixed emotions over the news, Allan Radel said Wednesday.

"My wife and I were talking -- did we want to find his body in the river?" he said. "Maybe it was a good thing if we don't know. If we find his body, it means he's dead. If we didn't find his body, he was possibly alive. The family has been through pure hell the last month."

An autopsy was scheduled for today in Anoka County. Funeral arrangements are pending on the completion of the autopsy, Allan Radel said.

Scot Radel was last heard from around 11:30 p.m. Feb. 2 when he called friends after leaving McRudy's Bar, asking for directions to another bar. His friends have said they had been to two other bars earlier that night, and that they thought he had become confused and walked in the wrong direction. They called police the next morning.

Allan Radel said his family was appreciative of the support they have received over the past month.

"We want to thank everybody for their support and prayers -- our friends, relatives, the Owatonna people, the St. Cloud people," he said. "Our family is a strong family. We will go on."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Jeffrey Jackson can be reached at 444-2371 or jjackson@owatonna.com.

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