Body of missing boater pulled from water in Winsted

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WINSTED- A dive team searching for a missing boater in Highland Lake pulled a body from the water on Monday. On Monday evening police identified the deceased victim as Benjerman Steen, 21, of Torrington.

Steen went missing Sunday around 5:25 p.m. Firefighters and other rescue personnel from Winsted and across Litchfield County began searching near West Wakefield Boulevard.  Those divers and rescue teams concluded for the night around 11:00 p.m.

Two of the boaters–who were identified on Monday as Kyle Hadsell, 27, of Winsted, and Howard Surowiecki, 25, also of Winsted–were able to swim to safety on the shore and were taken to Winsted Health Center. They were treated for hypothermia and later released. Steen remained in the water.

Officials are not sure why the 12-foot aluminum boat turned over Sunday in the first place, but they say it is possible someone was standing on the boat.

Monday morning, divers had a difficult time getting boats into the water because water levels are low. The water is also very murky, making visibility a problem.

Winsted Fire Department Chief Bob Shopey says the search effort turned into a rescue mission toward the end of the night. “We believe the survivability if he is in fact he’s still in the water is very low,” said Winsted Fire Chief Bob Shopey.

Authorities say the three men were fishing together on a boat on Highland Lake before it was reported to be overturned.

Additional information from the two surviving boaters indicated the missing boater may be close to where the boat capsized, around 500 feet from shore.

“We want to find that person we want to save people. When it goes on this long when you know what the chances are it’s not gonna happen. It gets frustrating, it gets tiresome,” said John Barbagello, the public information officer for Litchfield County Dispatch.

More than twenty departments, including Winsted, Bantam, Torrington, Norwalk, Goshen, Watertown, Thomaston and Terryville and Connecticut state police, all responded.

“I want to thank the neighboring towns that have to come out to help. My heart goes out to the families going through this,” said Winsted Mayor Candance Bouchard.

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