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Preserved body of diver missing since 1999 recovered from Lake Michigan

The well-preserved body of diver Dirk C. Kann, missing in Lake Michigan since 1999, has finally been recovered after several sightings over the years, Wisconsin officials say.

Kann, of Guttenberg, Iowa, was 52 when he went diving with two other men at the wreck of the Lakeland, a steamer that sank with a load of still-visible cars in 1924 off Algoma, Wis., about 125 miles northeast of Milwaukee. The shipwreck is a popular destination for divers.

Kann’s body was in Whitefish Bay, a mile east of Whitefish Point in the town of Sevastopol, about 20 miles north of Algoma, officials said.


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Two divers found the body Saturday 200 feet below the surface, officials said.

Kann was still in his wetsuit, Door County Sheriff Terry Vogel told The Door County Advocate newspaper.

He was positively identified Monday during an autopsy in Green Bay.

Kann’s widow, Rose Kann, told the Daily Mail the family felt great relief the body was found but that no memorials were planned.

The Advocate reported that Kann and a dive partner experienced problems while surfacing in 175 feet of water on Sept. 4, 1999.

Kann was last seen when he stopped at the 80-foot mark on a dive line to decompress – a requirement in deep dives to prevent the buildup of harmful nitrogen bubbles in the blood. The partner decompressed at the 40-foot mark. He and a third dive partner, who remained on a boat on the lake’s surface, pulled on the dive line but Kann was not there, according to Advocate reports at the time.

Bottles for decompression and emergency air remained on the line where Kann was last seen.

A search was called off after two days.

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In July 2002 divers found a body believed to be Kann, but weather and equipment problems prevented the body’s recovery, the Advocate reported.

Six or seven years ago, Kann’s body was snagged by a fisherman but was lost, Vogel told Wisconsin media.

Besides being an avid scuba diver, Kann founded a recumbent bicycle company, Linear Mfg., in Iowa in the mid-1980s and it was later sold, according to an online company history.

Kann Mfg., started by his father, manufactures marine boats, barges and garbage trucks in Guttenberg.

A son and daughter work at Kann but they declined comment, The Advocate said.

In 2011, the body of diver Christopher Windecker was recovered from the frigid waters of Lake Tahoe 17 years after he disappeared in the mountain lake straddling the California-Nevada border.

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