The remains of the last person missing after a bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River nearly three weeks ago have been found, authorities said Monday, bringing the official death toll to 13 and relief to the only family still awaiting word on a missing loved one.
Gregory Jolstad, nicknamed "Jolly," was on the construction crew that was resurfacing the bridge when it fell Aug. 1 during the evening rush hour. Jolstad, 45, was driving a skid loader, commonly known by the brand name Bobcat.
Divers had gone back in the water early Monday, and Jolstad's wife, Lisa Jolstad, had said officials vowed to continue until they found her husband.
The recovery, announced by the Hennepin County medical examiner, ends the search for bodies and allows construction crews to proceed with removing the collapsed pieces of the bridge.
"There aren't a lot of smiles here tonight," said Sheriff Rich Stanek, who was overseeing the search. "We all have very heavy hearts. It weighed on a lot of people, both personally and professionally."
Stanek said that he spoke with Lisa Jolstad about the recovery and that "she appreciated very much both the dignity and respect we afforded those families."
Other construction workers survivedGreg Jolstad, 45, was one of 18 construction workers on the bridge working for Progressive Contractors Inc. The other 17 survived the collapse. Seven suffered injuries, but none critical.
Also Monday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty asked President Bush to declare the collapse a major disaster, which would make the state eligible for more federal money. The governor said the emergency response costs alone would be more than $8 million.
Bush was scheduled to be in Minneapolis on Tuesday and to get a briefing on the bridge.
Jolstad had worked for PCI for 10 years, often commuting 90 miles one way to road jobs in the Twin Cities from his home in the central Minnesota town of Mora.
Lisa and Greg Jolstad were married in 1995 and lived with Lisa's three teenage children from a previous marriage in a 97-year-old farmhouse north of town where Greg Jolstad grew up.
"Greg never wanted to venture far from home," Lisa Jolstad said.
Her worst fear since the collapse was that her husband would still be missing after all the other victims of the disaster had been found — and that's exactly what happened.
A tax assessor currently between jobs, Lisa Jolstad is living for now on her husband's paycheck, which PCI continued to issue, as well as paying for grief counselors for family members.
"Everyone at the company is just heartsick for Greg's family," said David Lillehaug, PCI's attorney.
Lisa Jolstad said earlier that she was trying to keep occupied by getting the farmhouse ready for winter.
"I sit home every night, and I just can't believe he's not coming home," she said. "I look out the back door window and it's weird not to see his truck out there. I look out the bathroom window at the sky and know he's up there, and I say, you know, why did you have to leave, Greg?"