4 men drown in early morning canoe accident

The young men from Illinois had been drinking at a lake house in Wisconsin and were last seen around 2:30 a.m. Sunday

By Annysa Johnson
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

TOWN OF EAST TROY, Wis. — Four young men thought to have drowned Sunday in an early morning canoe accident on Mill Lake in Walworth County were part of a group of a dozen or so friends who'd gathered at a lake house in the Town of East Troy for the weekend, authorities said.

Jason Roberts, a recreational safety warden with the Department of Natural Resources, said the men were between the ages of 20 and 23 and all were from Illinois, though he didn't know their cities. He said the four had been drinking and there was no indication of foul play.

"There's no evidence that any of them had a personal floatation device on them, or that there were any on the boat," said Roberts.

As of 5:30 p.m. Sunday, two of the bodies had been recovered, and divers were continuing to search for the others in the frigid waters south of Highway J, Roberts said. He said the search would be suspended for the night at 8 p.m. if the bodies weren't recovered by then.

"We have no indication that they are anywhere but in the lake," he said.

Friends at the home told investigators that the four had gone outside to smoke around 2:30 a.m. and did not return before the others had gone to bed.

When they awoke around 9 a.m., Roberts said, they noticed that the four were missing and found foot tracks from the door to the boathouse and the canoe missing. They began searching and found the canoe overturned on the shore.

Speaking at a news conference Sunday, East Troy Police Chief James Surges said investigators believe the canoe overturned and that the four tried to climb out of the water, but that the thin ice beneath them kept breaking.

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