Carroll County Sheriff Bob Grudek believes the body of a spear fisherman missing in Beaver Lake since July 27 has been found.
Grudek said he has contacted the family of Michael Burton, 28, to tell them a body has been recovered in the cove where Burton went missing while spear fishing with a friend. Grudek said a positive identification will be made by the medical examiner in Little Rock but the body was recovered in a dive suit with a video camera and weight belt that all matched the description of Burton’s equipment when he disappeared.
Burton, of Omaha, Neb., disappeared and was presumed drowned when he failed to surface from a free dive in a 60-feet deep cove near Starkey Island. Dive teams from several agencies, including Benton and Carroll counties, searched for Burton for nearly a week before Grudek called off the search because of dangerous conditions.
Grudek said the body was recovered on the bottom of the cove in 54 feet of water. Members of the Benton, Carroll and Logan counties’ dive teams had continued to search for Burton unofficially since the search was canceled, Grudek said.
The body was found by a member of a private dive team from Fort Smith that had volunteered to help in the search. One member was in the water for less than 15 minutes he found the body at approximately 11 a.m., Grudek said.
Grudek said the diver marked the location of the body with a buoy, and the body was retrieved by members of the Benton County dive team.
“We had said all along that it would take someone just running into the body,” Grudek said. “The most important thing for the family is the closure. We were very happy we were able to recover the body for the family.”
Grudek said investigators hope to recover usable video from the camera found with the body to determine what may have gone wrong and caused the drowning. Grudek said the body was on the bottom of the lake and not hung up on any fishing line, hooks or debris.