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Missing man's kayak found in Samers Bay area Monday afternoon

Fire rescue boat
Posted at 5:35 PM, Nov 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-27 19:01:47-05
  • Michael Iriarte, 41, was reported missing after he was last seen kayaking Sunday night.
  • Emergency responders found his purple and white kayak along the shore in the Samers Bay area on Monday afternoon.
  • NBC 26 was there when the kayak was recovered, and we talked to a man who saw its recovery.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story with edits)

Sunday night, 41-year-old Michael Iriarte was reported missing by his family when he did not come home from kayaking that evening.

The Winnebago County Sheriff's Department said the last time he'd been seen was in the Samers Bay area at 3 p.m. on Sunday, and they said that a search for him began after they got the 911 call around 5:40 p.m.

Winnebago County Sheriff's deputies, Omro police, wardens from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Omro-Rushford Fire Department first responders all searched the area but couldn't find anything, so the search was suspended Sunday night.

The search began again on Monday morning just before 11 a.m.

Bill Martin from Wild Rose was one of the onlookers who came to the scene on Monday.

“Originally showed up to talk– er, check the ice out for the conditions for duck hunting tomorrow morning and found out that there was a Coast Guard helicopter flying around, so I checked it out, talked to a few people here, and found out that a kayaker was missing.

“I was looking through my binoculars to look for ducks, and I saw them pull the purple and white kayak out onto the shore, and kind of got a sick feeling in my stomach.

“Didn't realize what was going on until I saw that. It is a very gut-wrenching feeling.”

Iriarte's family shared this picture of him.

Michael Iriarte
Michael Iriarte, 41, was reported missing after he was last seen kayaking on Sunday, November 26, 2023.

“It's somebody's, you know, somebody's son... So I just wish the family the best. It's tough, especially this time of year,” said Martin.

If you have any more information or if you've seen anything that could help in their search, the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office wants to hear from you. That number is 920-236-7316.