TRAVERSE CITY — The body of a local man was pulled from Lake Skegemog following an exhaustive three-day search and recovery effort for a missing 46-year-old kayaker.
Grand Traverse County sheriff’s Lt. Chris Barsheff said deputies found the body of John Murray White, of Traverse City, just after 11 a.m. on Friday after Michigan State Police sonar spotted it below the surface. A dive team plunged into the waters, retrieving White's body and putting an end to search efforts, he said.
“First thing Friday, we took the location provided by (the sonar) and deployed our resources,” Barsheff said. “We were able to locate Mr. White. … We’ll continue with our investigation and work with the medical examiner’s office who, in the end, will inform us of his cause and manner of death.”
White was reported missing by family on Tuesday. Relatives suspect he kayaked onto the lake but never returned to shore after his truck was found parked at a boat launch on Baggs Road. His kayak and a pair of life jackets were recovered across the lake but authorities couldn’t find his body for days.
Authorities — with assistance from the Michigan State Police, Roscommon and Antrim county sheriff’s departments and the U.S. Coast Guard — this week deployed dive teams, a cadaver dog, drones and a boat equipped with sonar to scan the lake.
Deputies also tried to “ping” White’s phone to track his last known location. MSP troopers on Thursday also launched a driverless underwater vehicle to capture high-definition footage of the murky and debris-filled waters — the equipment that ultimately led investigators to the location of White’s body.
Lake Skegemog is about 25 feet at its deepest point, but logs made it difficult to accurately use sonar, authorities previously said.
Family reported White missing to Traverse City police at 12:34 p.m. on Tuesday because they hadn’t had contact with him since Saturday. White also did not report to work on Monday, according to a Coast Guard release.
Barsheff said authorities will continue to support family members as they await findings from a medical examiner’s office. Preliminary autopsy results could arrive as soon as Monday, Barsheff said. He said investigators — based on early investigative findings — suspect the death was accidental.
“We don’t suspect any foul play but those questions are probably best left to the medical examiner,” Barsheff said, noting White didn’t display any obvious injuries when they pulled him from the depths. “There just isn’t anything that could suggest what might have happened."
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