There was a grim end Wednesday to the search for a missing ice fisherman on Lake Champlain.
A dive team found a body in the water of Orwell, Vermont, and Vermont State Police preliminarily identified the man as Lee Wiktorski, 61, of Benson.
His sister, Kim, and brother, Alan, traveled to Orwell to see what they could of the search, and to tell search teams and investigators how much they appreciated their hard work in harsh winter conditions.
The latest news from around the state
Shortly before the body was discovered, necn spoke to the siblings.
"They're amazing," Alan Wiktorski of Westminster, Massachusetts, said of Vermont State Police and other agencies that participated in the search for his brother. "They're heroes in the family's eyes, and we couldn’t ask for anything more."
After the discovery, the relatives hugged and shook the hands of members of the search team.
A loved one reported Lee Wiktorski missing Monday night after he didn’t return home from a fishing trip on Lake Champlain.
Relatives described him as a careful and experienced outdoorsman.
Tuesday, his truck was discovered broken through the lake's icy surface, sinking 22 feet.
That find was made after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection plane spotted an anomaly in the ice off the shore of Orwell.
Wednesday, search teams focused on the area near the sunken truck.
Dive teams worked in the water and troopers from Vermont and New York searched the shorelines on both sides of the lake before the divers made the discovery.
"It means a lot," Lt. Tom Mozzer of Vermont State Police said of being able to meet Lee Wiktorski's siblings, even under tragic circumstances. "It really shows why we get into this business. When we can bring closure to a family like this, it really hits home."
Lt. Mozzer said the fisherman's death appears to be accidental, but a final determination will be made when the state's chief medical examiner completes a report.
There are no plans yet to remove the pickup truck from the lake, but oftentimes in cases like this, that waits until spring for safety reasons.