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Body pulled from lake is missing West Point cadet

BY MATT PEIKEN
Pioneer Press
TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press
Article Last Updated: 04/17/2007 05:33:28 PM CDT

Authorities have identified the body pulled Monday morning from Goose Lake as Nicholas Rossini, the missing West Point cadet from White Bear Lake. Rossini, 21, went missing from his home Dec. 17 while on vacation from the military school.

Members of the Ramsey County sheriff's water patrol were searching for Rossini when they found the body on the west end of the lake, about three miles from the family's home. The county medical examiner's office has positively identified the body as Rossini. A news release this afternoon said he appeared to have drowned.

Word of the discovery Monday struck the Rossini family hard, according to a close family friend. For five months, the family had held hope that their only son, among six children, had run away and found refuge elsewhere or suffered lost memory after he crashed his mother's car the night before after drinking with friends in Minneapolis.

Rossini was an athletic, ambitious, outgoing 2004 graduate of White Bear Lake Area High School and a standout first-year cadet at West Point.

Two nights before he left the house, he crashed his mother's car into a parked car after partying in Minneapolis with several friends and, soon after, was arrested in Crystal, northwest of Minneapolis. His blood-alcohol level tested at .15. His parents believed that their question to Nicholas and his subsequent worries of how the incident would affect his standing at West Point played into his leaving the home unannounced.

He left behind no note or other clue to his motive or destination. He also left on foot without his wallet, a cell phone, backpack or the suitcase and clothes he brought home with him from West Point for the holiday break.

The "door-to-door, yard-to-yard" search drew police, sheriffs, fire and other public safety personnel from throughout the Twin Cities, along with friends, neighbors and volunteers from area lakes and trails groups.

Friends and family know Nicholas as independent, equally comfortable spending quiet time at home as he is on a night out with friends. He reported to the Army just after Christmas 2005 with an eye on joining Special Forces but performed so well early in his training that he was invited into West Point. There, he carried a 3.49 grade-point average. A representative from West Point told Nicholas' parents that the school wouldn't penalize Nicholas for his arrest.

Matt Peiken can be reached at mpeiken@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5440.





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