A woman was found dead in an iced-over lake near Ely, Minn., several days after she was last seen in an Iron Range bar with a man, authorities and a relative said Tuesday afternoon.
The man remained missing, and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office suspects the two were on White Iron Lake together on a snowmobile, when they broke through the ice.
The woman was identified as Debbie Senarighi, 60, of Cloquet, Minn. The search continued Tuesday for Kenneth Wildenauer, 60, also of Cloquet.
Suspicions were raised when Wildenauer failed to show up for work Monday in Cloquet, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The two were last seen together at Tank’s bar in Babbitt on Friday evening, and the last known cellphone location from one of them was from a ping Saturday afternoon southeast of Ely.
It was near that same area where the snowmobile broke through the lake ice close to Beargrease Island, and Senarighi’s body was recovered about 11:30 p.m. Monday by a county rescue squad, the Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday afternoon.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Wayne Toewe said the spot on the lake is near where a river flows and “the moving water weakens the ice. ... It was very thin ice where they went through.”
With two people on a snowmobile that weighs more than 500 pounds, there was “not enough ice to hold the weight there.”
The snowmobile was located submerged below the surface and will remain there as search personnel make finding Wildenauer a priority, Toewe said.
Earlier Monday, first responders went to Wildenauer’s cabin in Babbitt and found his vehicle parked there, along with Senarighi’s.
His snowmobile was missing, and “it is believed that the two of them left the cabin on the snowmobile,” a statement from the Sheriff’s Office read.