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Missing Wisconsin fisherman’s kayak found day after disappearance on lake

Michael Iriarte, 41, remains missing after searchers recovered his kayak from Lake Butte Des Morts near Omro, Wisconsin, on Monday, authorities said.

An empty kayak belonging to a fisherman who went missing on a lake in Wisconsin over the weekend has been found, authorities said Monday.

Michael Iriarte, 41, was last seen around 3 p.m. Sunday on Lake Butte Des Morts in the town of Omro, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office said. Iriarte had launched a kayak in Sammers Bay to go fishing near Terrell’s Island.

Iriarte’s family notified the sheriff’s office around 5:40 p.m. that he had failed to return from the trip.


The sheriff’s office launched a search with help from the Omro police and fire departments, a warden from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and other first responders.

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The search lasted several hours, with drones being used to cover an extensive area around Terrell’s Island, Sammers Bay and Spring Brook.

Officials ultimately suspended the search Sunday night after “all available search efforts were exhausted or proven ineffective,” the sheriff’s office said.

The search resumed Monday morning with boats and a plane, while ground teams scoured the coastline on foot.

Iriarte’s kayak was found just before 1:30 p.m., the sheriff’s office confirmed. Iriarte, however, has yet to be located.

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Bill Martin was at the scene when teams discovered the kayak, telling WGBA-TV that he got a “gut-wrenching feeling” as he watched them pull the kayak out of the water.

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“I was looking through my binoculars to look for ducks, and I saw them pull the purple and white kayak out onto the shore and kind of got a sick feeling in my stomach,” Martin said.

“It’s somebody’s, you know, somebody’s son,” Martin told the station. “I just wish the family the best. It’s tough, especially this time of year in between the holidays.”

Iriarte was last seen wearing a blue and gray life jacket, a dark blue jacket, dark-colored pants, brown boots, a face mask and hat.

Authorities asked anyone with information about Iriarte to contact the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office at 920-236-7300, extension zero, or 911.

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