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Crews Recover Body Of Missing Boater

June 28, 2010, 5:01 PM by Brian Kushida

Crews Recover Body Of Missing Boater
OKOBOJI, IA - Family members told authorities he was a strong swimmer, but something went wrong.  Thirty-year old Chad Lenz of Carroll, Iowa, was boating with his wife and two children Sunday afternoon, when officials say his hat blew off.  Authorities say he then put the boat in neutral and jumped into the water.  Just 24 hours after Lenz disappeared, search crews recovered his body from West Lake Okoboji. And while that may not sound like long, the search was a difficult one.

It's a vast area, and the water at West Lake Okoboji is deeper than any other lake in the state.

"It's a small needle, big haystack. That's what we've been saying," Arnolds Park/Okoboji Search And Rescue Dive Captain Mark Petersen said.

So crews have been using every moment of daylight to search for any sign of Chad Lenz. Sonar scans sent divers underwater more than a dozen times.

Officials say sweeping through the water isn't an easy task. There's more than 3,000 acres of water with depths of more than 130 feet deep.

Petersen says talking with the family and tracking the cell phone signal of an witness who called 911 helped narrow the search area. But today, nearly 30 mph winds got in the way.

"With the winds and the speeds we had, we don't have an exact area from where he went under, where a lot of the times when somebody comes missing in the shoreline. You have plenty of witnesses, landmarks, reference points to go off of," Petersen said.

Authorities from Dickinson County Sheriff, Spirit Lake, and Iowa DNR worked together to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And all of the work comes with a heavy heart.

"Hate to see it happen to anybody. Seems like the family is trying to be strong," Petersen said.

Authorities say alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the drowning.

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