Fisherman hopes scary situation leads to new warning signs at Minnehaha Park

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A fast-moving storm in Minneapolis forced three men to cling to a gate in a water drain after a quick round of rain caused water levels to rise quickly at Minnehaha Park Thursday night. 

The men were fishing above a culvert where the Minnehaha Creek meets the Mississippi River. 

Carlos Castillo tells Fox 9 he can still feel the pain of gripping the culvert’s steel gate for dear life—not just his life, but the life of his brother and his son.

Several splotches of bruises were still visible on both of Castillo’s arms Saturday.

“It started to rain and avoid getting wet, we went into the tunnel,” recounted Castillo who said he and the group had only been at the River a few minutes before the downpour.

That ‘tunnel’ turned out to be the concrete culvert. It was dry, until the flash deluge of storm water rushed through it. 

“We ended up even more wet,” Castillo continued with a chuckle. 

Fortunately, the three men had brought along two other friends. 

“They went to the tunnel, we went to a cave,” said Jose Luis Estrada, Castillo’s friend. 

Estrada had taken shelter for about a half hour somewhere else along the bank. Somehow, Castillo managed to phone him and tell him to call 911. That’s when Estrada saw his friends hanging on to the shifty gate. 

“I was afraid,” Estrada said. “I thought ‘it’s going to take them.’ One bad fall before going into the river, they wouldn’t be able to swim.” 

Castillo said he, his son and brother clung to the swinging steel for about an hour. 

“Who knows where the strength came from?” Castillo said. 

With the help of Minneapolis Fire, Minneapolis Park Police roped the men to safety. 

Castillo said he feels grateful and hopeful that something will be soon be done to keep others away from the popular culvert. 

“They should put a sign there for people—it’s dangerous,” Castillo said. 

The culvert is technically already marked to be dangerous by the gate, but its age and the ability to maneuver around it could mean it’s time to install a grate cover.