Wallet of missing Milwaukee teacher washes ashore on Lake SuperiorAuthorities searching for a 48-year-old Milwaukee Public Schools teacher, missing after kayaking on Lake Superior in Minnesota, said a life jacket and wallet containing the man’s identification washed ashore early Saturday afternoon.
By: By Mike Johnson/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Superior Telegram
Authorities searching for a 48-year-old Milwaukee Public Schools teacher, missing after kayaking on Lake Superior in Minnesota, said a life jacket and wallet containing the man’s identification washed ashore early Saturday afternoon.
The items were found near the Split Rock Lighthouse near Two Harbors, an area where Douglas R. Winter had been kayaking on Monday, Lake County, Minn., Sheriff Carey Johnson said.
On Tuesday, Winter’s orange and white kayak was found bobbing on the water about 2 p.m. along a Lake Superior beach just north of Twin Points, about an hour north of Duluth.
Winter is a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher and experienced kayaker, a friend and the school district said Saturday.
He was last heard from about 8:40 p.m. Monday when he called a friend to tell her that he was on Lake Superior about 2 to 3 miles from shore, could not see land and the waves were getting fairly large, the sheriff’s department said.
“He’s a good paddler. He tended to go with the people who paddle fast and far,” said Richard Silberman of Glendale, a friend of Winter.
Silberman, a kayak instructor, said he has known Winter for about three years and once gave him lessons on rolling, a technique to right a capsized kayak.
Winter also was a regular with a group of kayakers who meet on Sundays at South Shore Park throughout the year to paddle on Lake Michigan.
Fellow kayakers were not aware Winter had gone to Lake Superior. But Silberman said it wasn’t unusual for Winter to go on kayaking trips by himself.
Once Winter paddled the waters of Green Bay from Peninsula State Park in Door County to the Michigan shore and back, Silberman said. “On the way back, when he got to Chambers Island, he called me and said he was getting tired, but he made it back,” Silberman said.
Winter was assigned to teach eighth grade science at MPS’ Audubon Technology & Communication Center, but had not been in the building since teacher organization day in late August, before classes started on Sept. 1, according to MPS spokeswoman Roseann St. Aubin. St. Aubin did not know if Winter was on leave.
The U.S. Coast Guard had telephoned the school to ask about Winter because the registration for his kayak listed the school as his workplace, St. Aubin said.
Karla Winter-Schulz of San Diego said her brother had traveled from Milwaukee to Beaver Bay in Minnesota to kayak and checked into the Cove Point Lodge there.
The sheriff’s department said Winter paid to stay at the lodge on Oct. 18 and 19. After his empty kayak was discovered, investigators found his car unlocked in the lodge parking lot. The keys, a checkbook, wallet and clothing bag were inside the vehicle, the sheriff’s department said in a news release.
The sheriff’s department and the U.S. Coast Guard searched the water and shoreline for Winter until about 7 p.m. Wednesday, when the search was called off.
The sheriff’s department said it planned to resume the search this weekend.
Johnson, the sheriff, said Saturday that two relatives of Winter received letters and money from him just before he went missing. One letter was written on Cove Point Lodge stationery and cash was wrapped in the letter, Johnson said.
Although Johnson said that “seems kind of odd,” his investigators did not find anything to indicate Winter was despondent and contemplating suicide.
If Winter’s kayak capsized and he fell out, it’s unlikely he would have been able to survive in the water long, Johnson, the sheriff, and Silberman said.
The lake’s water temperature was about 47 degrees, and hypothermia would set in quickly. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says survival time without a life jacket would be less than two hours.
Copyright (c) 2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/ Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.