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August 26, 2013

Search continues for father, children missing at Sleeping Bear

GLEN HAVEN — A man and his three children are missing at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, prompting a massive, all-day search.

An empty vehicle belonging to an Orchard Lake man, 50, was found at Sleeping Bear Dunes early today at a turnaround on a park road leading to the Maritime Museum. Authorities searched all day by air and foot for the man and his children — ages 14, 10 and 9 — but they remained unaccounted for by late afternoon.

Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich said the fate of the four remained unknown late today. He said there were no immediate indications of foul play.

“We would like to know where they are for sure,” Borkovich said. "It could be a dad with his kids on a hike, it may not. We've got to look (out) for the best interests of the kids."

Authorities did not release the identities of the man and his two sons and daughter. Emmet County Sheriff Peter Wallin said the man was the subject of a domestic violence complaint filed Sunday morning by his wife -- the children's mother -- in Emmet County's Bear Creek Township.

"It was a domestic violence complaint that occurred at about 10:34 a.m.,” Wallin said. “I’m not going to get into specifics on it. Domestic violence involving his wife.”

Emmet authorities issued a domestic violence warrant for the man today. Law enforcement in Emmet County also issued a be-on-the-lookout alert for the man’s vehicle. A National Park Service ranger spotted the vehicle on the lakeshore access road today around 5 a.m.

An extensive search turned up no sign of the family by late afternoon. Borkovich said a team of volunteers planned a grid search from Pyramid Point to Platte Bay.

Borkovich said there was no indication the father and children had appropriate camping gear for a long-term stay in the wild. He also said officials considered issuing an Amber Alert for the children but held off on doing so by late today.

"We have no indication to believe there's any harm being done to the kids," Borkovich said. "There's no signs to believe anything is foul at this time other than our police minds (saying) to us they should have been back to the car by now."

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