Missing Boater on Lake Minnetonka Found Not Far from Where His Boat Was Found Doing 'Circle of Death'

September 16, 2018 10:13 PM

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office announced a body was located near the area of Big Island on Lake Minnetonka at approximately 10:15 a.m. 

The body was recovered within 150 feet of the area Hennepin County Deputies had been searching for a 40-year-old missing boater since Saturday evening. 


Authorities first learned something was amiss when a lakeside resident spotted a boat, with no one onboard, doing doughnuts, spinning in Cruiser's Cove, which is a popular bay where boaters tie up.

"That's not to say that's where the boat was when the operator went missing, but it's the last best location we have and marked it," said Sheriff Rich Stanek. 

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Hennepin County Water Patrol refer to the endless whirling of a boat as the "circle of death." It happens when someone lets go of the steering wheel, for whatever reason, while the boat spins with its dangerous propeller churning.

The state makes all new operators aware of the hazard when they get licensed.

"If the boat goes round and round it means somebody fell off, something happened to them," according to licensed operator Stephen Seidel of St. Louis Park.

Investigators are working to find out what happened that caused the man to disappear. He reportedly told relatives he was going to drop off a passenger at one location and then cruise over to pick up another person, but that didn't happen. Saturday evening his 21-footer was found empty and no one was floating nearby.

Search crews set out again Sunday using divers, sonar equipment and an underwater vehicle. About 16 hours after the man vanished, his body was found, according to Stanek.

"This was a big search area, we tried to narrow it down, but really we had no idea where he was or what happened," he said.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office will identify the man found and his official cause of death. They are looking at a number of possibilities: drowning, propeller injury, alcohol, accidentally falling overboard, hitting something submerged in the water or a medical emergency.

Click here for boat and water safety information from the DNR.

More from KSTP:

Report: Authorities Recover Body of Second Missing Minnesota Boater on Wisconsin Lake 

Missing Boater's Body Recovered in Sturgeon Lake


Tommy Wiita & Beth McDonough

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