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Small town mourns leader’s death

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Residents of Hayfield, Minn., (pop. 1,300) were saddened yesterday to learn of the death of City Councilman Joel Fritze Friday following a snorkeling tour off Maui.

Fritze, 53, was pronounced dead after he was found floating unconscious in waters off Molokini Crater.

People performed CPR on the tour boat and Fritze was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:02 a.m. Friday. An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.

Hayfield is about 75 miles south of Minneapolis. Fritze was a native of the small town and has served on its city council since 2001. He also was a software quality test engineer at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., the Hayfield city government website says.

"The whole neighborhood is sort of shocked," longtime neighbor and friend Carol Daleske said. "He’s going to be sadly missed in our community. We’re just one of many, many friends."

The Coast Guard received a call about 9:15 a.m. Friday about a snorkeler found unconscious and face-down in the water at Molokini Crater, Coast Guard spokeswoman Angela Henderson said.

A 45-foot patrol boat from Station Maui arrived at the scene about 9:45 a.m. and discovered people administering CPR to the man on a tour boat, Henderson said.

The patrol boat transferred the man to paramedics at Kihei Boat Ramp about 10 a.m., she said.

Chris Kasper, general manager of Boss Frog’s Dive and Surf, confirmed the man had been on the company’s vessel Frogman II.

Kasper said he didn’t know what happened and declined further comment.

According to the website, Frogman II is a 55-foot power catamaran that holds up to 66 passengers. The vessel travels to Molokini Crater and Turtle Town.


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