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Body found on Lake of the Woods identified as missing boater Keith Ayers

POWDER ISLAND, Ont. -- A body found by a 67-year-old man in the water near his island home on Lake of the Woods was identified Wednesday as Keith Ayers, who disappeared six months in a boating accident on the lake. Ayer's mother, Carol Derosky, w...

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POWDER ISLAND, Ont. - A body found by a 67-year-old man in the water near his island home on Lake of the Woods was identified Wednesday as Keith Ayers, who disappeared six months in a boating accident on the lake.

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Ayer's mother, Carol Derosky, was not going to give up on finding her son. She even planned to return to Lake of the Woods at the end of April to resume her search.

"I'm relieved but grieved," Derosky said in a text message. "Even though I knew it was coming, I now have to accept. I am so grateful for all that have helped."

Officers from the Kenora Department of the Ontario Provincial Police responded around 6 p.m. Tuesday to a report of a deceased man located near the shoreline of Powder Island. The body was recovered Wednesday by members of the Kenora OPP Marine and Trails Unit and the Kenora Forensic Identification Unit. The Lake of the Woods County Sheriff's Department in Minnesota also assisted in the recovery.

A postmortem examination is scheduled for April 23 at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora, Ont. No further details about the recovery of Ayers have been released.

The find comes after Lake of the Woods County Sheriff Gary Fish said Friday an aerial search for Ayers conducted early last week turned up no new leads.

Ayers, 28, along with Justin Kelly Haugtvedt, 22, and Cody Joseph Ostendorf, 24, all of Baudette, Minn., were reported missing Oct. 3 after their boat was found capsized on the northeast corner of Flag Island, which is just south of the Canadian border on Lake of the Woods near the Northwest Angle Inlet.

The bodies of Haugtvedt and Ostendorf were found a week after they were reported missing, but searchers only found Ayers' shoe and jacket in the months after the accident. Ostendorf was found on the northeast corner of Flag Island, and Haugtvedt was found in about 14 feet of water in the southwest area of Oak Island, which is east of Flag Island.

Jim Major said in an interview he was the one who found Ayers in the water about 150 feet in front of his home on Powder Island, which sits in Canadian waters northeast of Brush Island. Major said he noticed something out of the ordinary in the water around April 10, but because of the snow and ice, he couldn't tell what it was.

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Major said he went out of town for a few days, but on Tuesday, with the ice melted, he immediately realized the object in the water was a body. He called OPP around 4 p.m. Tuesday to get in touch with Lake of the Woods Sheriff's Department.

But the fog Wednesday morning prevented officials from immediately reaching the body. A helicopter eventually was able to fly in around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to retrieve Ayers, Major said.

Major said he couldn't make out any distinguishing features.

Before the lake froze, Derosky joined the Sheriff's Department in aerial and water searchers for Ayers throughout November. She also worked with Keith Cormican of Bruce's Legacy, a volunteer organization that provides search and recovery operations for drowning victims, to find Ayers, though the lake froze over before her son was discovered, forcing her and others to suspend the search until the ice melted this spring.

Derosky said she's appreciative of the support she's had from those in the Lake of the Woods area in her search to find her son.

"I have so many to thank," she said.

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