SAULT STE. MARIE (WWJ/AP) – A man searching the deserted shoreline of an Upper Peninsula lake has found the body of his 52-year-old brother who was reported missing nearly six months ago.
The body of William Kenyon Wenzel, of Merrill, was positively identified Thursday, according to The Michigan Department of Natural Resources.READ MORE: COVID-19 Vaccines Saved Nearly 20 Million Lives In First Year, Study Says
Wenzel was reported missing on Nov. 27 after he had gone fishing alone in a boat on Lake George, east of Sault Ste. Marie in Chippewa County. At the time of his disappearance, police said there were high winds and waves and it was suspected Wenzel had fallen overboard.
During initial search efforts, Wenzel’s small fishing boat was recovered, but there was no sign of the fisherman. The 40-square-mile lake is part of Lake Huron, situated between the east side of Sugar Island and Ontario, Canada. For several days afterward, sheriff’s deputies, U.S. Coast Guard and divers from the Michigan State Police Underwater Recovery Unit searched the area with no success.
After Wenzel was reported missing, his brother Craig Wenzel spent his off days from work looking around Lake George for any signs of his brother. The DNR says Craig Wenzel was with relatives and friends at the lake Thursday afternoon, walking a deserted shoreline near Rock Island, when he saw something floating in the water. He had no cellphone service, but used a marine radio to contact Coast Guard personnel, who contacted police.
About an hour later, DNR conservation officers arrived at the scene and after hopping on a 14-foot open boat, discovered that Craig Wenzel had actually discovered his brother’s body.
Conservation officer Jeffrey Panich said William Wenzel’s body was situated in a marshy area about five feet offshore, floating in water about a foot deep.READ MORE: Michigan Ballot Initiative Aims To Protect Abortion Rights
“He was located west of Rock Island and east of Sugar Island,” Panich said in a statement. “The body was only about 100 yards from where the boat was found.”
Panich said water quality gets brown and murky in that area when the lake is churned up by wind and waves. Thursday’s weather was rough, too, with gusting winds, choppy, rolling waves and rain showers.
The operation to recover the body took about six hours, said Panich.
Sheriff’s deputies said the investigation is now closed, pending autopsy results, as it appears Wenzel died from an accidental drowning.
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