Crews search for missing ice fisherman near Orwell

Published: Feb. 12, 2019 at 10:56 AM EST
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Divers found a missing ice fisherman's pickup truck in Lake Champlain late Tuesday afternoon. But Lee Wiktorski was not with the truck.

Authorities say Wiktorski, 61, of Benson, was fishing on the lake near Orwell Monday and did not return. A search was launched after he was reported missing by a relative late Monday.

Crews discovered Wiktorski's belongings on the ice Tuesday morning. And late Tuesday afternoon, divers discovered Wiktorski's silver pickup in about 22 feet of water. Vermont State Police say the pickup was empty and Wiktorski was not found.

Divers targeted the spot where the pickup was found after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircraft spotted an anomaly between Chittenden Point and Singing Cedars.

"Not necessarily a break, but just an abnormal -- where it looked like there is possibly something -- the ice opened up and refroze," said Vermont State Police Lt. Jeff Danoski.

State police also deployed their new airboats in the search Tuesday, since the icy waters are dangerous on foot.

As a storm rolled in Tuesday evening, the search was suspended for the night. Police expect to be back out Wednesday, depending on the weather. They say the storm could create some difficulties depending on how much snow accumulates.

Anyone with information about Wiktorski's whereabouts is asked to call the Vermont State Police.

Update- please read. My father has been found. We are heartbroken and at a loss for words. We want to thank everyone...

Posted by Dana Piontek on Tuesday, February 12, 2019