Mystery surrounds disappearance of boaters

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SEPT. 5 — A Michigan lawyer, whose body was found in Lake Huron nearly two weeks after she and another boater went missing in August, might have suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning before having drowned.

An autopsy of 35-year-old Lana A. Stempien showed that she had a 13-percent saturation level of carbon monoxide in her system, according to local news reports. That percentage was most likely much higher when she went into the water, according to David Smart, a forensic pathologist who performed Stempien’s autopsy.

“I think it helps explain why she could have been incapacitated; an otherwise healthy person drowning in the water,” Smart is quoted in a news report.

Stempien and Charles Rutherford, 34, both of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., were last heard from Aug. 11 when they informed a family member that they were expected at Mackinac Island later that day. According to press reports, their 27-foot Wellcraft powerboat was reportedly found idling in neutral and adrift Aug. 12 about 11 miles northeast of their destination. The radio was playing, its running lights were off and the PFDs and their cell phones were still on board. The swim ladder was up, but there was a 20-foot line trailing off the stern.

When Stempien’s body was discovered, she was wearing only a necklace, a watch and a ring, reports say. Rutherford’s body has not yet been found.

— Jason Fell