UPDATE: Death of Frankfort woman in windsurfing incident ruled as accidental drowning

Carolyn Skaff, 66, went missing on Sept. 21 while windsurfing on Bear Lake. Volunteer search members located her body the following morning, and her death was recently classified as an accidental drowning by the medical examiner. (File Photo)

Carolyn Skaff, 66, went missing on Sept. 21 while windsurfing on Bear Lake. Volunteer search members located her body the following morning, and her death was recently classified as an accidental drowning by the medical examiner. (File Photo)

BEAR LAKE — An update has been provided Carolyn Skaff, the 66 year old windsurfer from Frankfort who was found unresponsive on the shore of Bear Lake on Sept. 22.

The medical examiner has ruled the cause of death was drowning, according to Sheriff John O’Hagan. The manner of death was classified as an accident.

Skaff went missing on Sept. 21 while windsurfing on Bear Lake, and volunteer members from the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) located her body the following morning while searching along the shoreline north of Highland Drive and U.S. 31 on Bear Lake, according to the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office.

“We recovered the body of the missing female within 50 minutes following our briefing for response to this incident,” said sheriff John O’Hagan. “A great job done by the nearly 50 first responders and volunteers.”

The search team consisted of members from the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol, the Department of Natural Resources, members of the Bear Lake Fire Department, Michigan State Police, CERT, Munson EMS and Victim Services Unit.

Police say Skaff and her husband went out windsurfing on Bear Lake shortly after 2 p.m. on Sept. 21. The 66-year-old woman was about a quarter mile ahead of her husband when he witnessed her go down, but due to the distance, he was unable to give an exact location.

He told police she is an excellent swimmer and an expert windsurfer, having surfed all over the world. She was not wearing a life jacket, according to police.

The surfboard she was riding on was later located on the east shore of Bear Lake, however, the sail was not found, according to police. High gusty winds and waves exceeding three feet made the search extremely difficult.

The search team on the day of the accident consisted of the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol, the Department of Natural Resources and members of the Bear Lake Fire Department. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew in from Traverse City to assist.

Deputies were also assisted by Munson EMS and members of the Bear Lake Fire Department who searched the ground in and around the entire lake.

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