Missing Dakota activist found dead in river near protest camps.
Officials: Cause of death unknown
An apparent Dakota Access Pipeline activist missing since October has been found dead floating in the Cannonball River near the site of the former protest camps.
A local fisherman discovered the body of Damjan Nedelkovski, 35, of Glendale, California, near the shoreline at the river’s mouth, according to a press release issued Monday by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department in Mandan, North Dakota.
“Family and friends report that their last contact with Nedelkovski was on October 29, 2016,” said the statement. “His stepbrother filed a missing person report with the Glendale Police Department on November 16, 2016. Nedelkovski was known to be at the protest camps.”
The autopsy performed by the North Dakota Medical Examiner’s office in Bismarck revealed “no trauma to the body to suspect any foul play. The cause of death is still pending, and authorities are unsure how long the body was in the river.”
The man was found with a Republic of Macedonia identification card. His family in the U.S. and Eastern Europe have been contacted, the sheriff said.
Thousands of protesters descended on the remote south-central North Dakota prairie last year in an effort to stop the $3.8 billion pipeline project, which was completed last month after securing a final easement in January.
Some protests turned violent as activists blocked roads and bridges and threw rocks, bottles and other projectiles at officers, who responded at various times with tear gas, beanbag rounds, rubber bullets and water hoses.
A total of 709 arrests stemming from the protest were made from August to February, 661 of which involved outof-state protesters, but no deaths were reported until now.
The last few hundred protesters living in the camps on federal land along the Cannonball River were evacuated in February in order to clear the way for a cleanup effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
North Dakota radio talk-show host Rob Port of WDAY-AM called the discovery “very sad news.”
“Remember we had some brutal winter weather during the protests,” said Mr. Port on the Say Anything blog. “With thousands of people camping outside, many of them not familiar with the dangers of winter in North Dakota, the silver lining (if there can be said to be one) is perhaps that there’s just one dead.”
Morton County has asked “anyone with any additional information regarding Nedelkovski’s whereabouts between Oct. 29 and April 9 to contact the department at (701) 667-3330.”