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UPDATED: Police find body of missing ice fisherman

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Posted on February 14, 2019 |
By Addison Independent



20190212 vsp lake search.jpg
SEARCH CREWS ON Tuesday look for ice fisherman Lee Wiktorski, pictured below, on the ice near Orwell on Lake Champlain. Divers on Wednesday afternoon recovered a body they believed was Wiktorski's. Photos courtesy of Vermont State Police

ORWELL — A search begun Monday night for a man who went missing while ice fishing on Lake Champlain near Orwell, came to a tragic end Wednesday afternoon when Vermont State Police found a body in the water that they suspected was him.

A concerned relative reported late on Monday that Lee Wiktorski, 61, of Benson had been ice fishing on the lake and had not returned. A search effort overnight included multiple first responders on the ice in the vicinity of Singing Cedars Landing in Orwell and support from a helicopter crew from the U.S. Coast Guard based in Cape Cod, Mass.

Search crews discovered Wiktorski’s personal belongings on the ice but initially found no sign of him or his vehicle.

On Tuesday afternoon, the crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircraft spotted an anomaly on the ice, and a Vermont State Police dive team responded to the location with crews in airboats.

Sonar picked up a target in the water, and divers deployed into the lake. Late Tuesday afternoon, the divers located Wiktorski’s pickup truck submerged in about 22 feet of water. The vehicle was empty, and Wiktorski was not located.

Water currents in the area made the dive more difficult, and visibility was near zero.

First responders searched the surrounding area and shoreline, including with K-9s, but there were no signs of Wiktorski.

Facing deteriorating conditions including heavy snow, gusting winds and extremely limited visibility, search crews suspended their efforts for the night, and resumed on Wednesday shortly after noon.

Then at about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, divers located a body in the water that matched the description of Lee Wiktorski.

Crews recovered the remains from the lake, and took them to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington to confirm the victim’s identity and for an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death.

Police late Wednesday said they would continue investigating this incident. Anyone with information about it is asked to call the Vermont State Police barracks in New Haven at 802-338-4919.

In addition to the above agencies, assisting in the search were Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife game wardens, Benson Fire/Ice Rescue, and New York State Police.

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