Body found on beach ID’d as man miss­ing since May

Post-Tribune - - Local -

A man pulled from Lake Michi­gan near Whit­ing on Mon­day has been iden­ti­fied as a Chicago trader miss­ing since a May boat­ing ac­ci­dent that killed two other peo­ple.

Or­est Sopka, 30, of Chicago, was pulled from the lake near Whit­ing Beach a few min­utes be­fore 8 p.m. Mon­day, officials said.

The Lake County Coroner’s of­fice con­firmed his iden­tity through med­i­cal records from a pre­vi­ous surgery, the of­fice said in a state­ment. Re­sults of a Wed­nes­day au­topsy were not im­me­di­ately re­leased.

Sopka was one of four peo­ple on board a 33-foot cabin cruiser that sank sev­eral miles off the coast of Chicago the night of May 31, the Chicago Sun-Times pre­vi­ously re­ported.

The group of four pas­sen­gers trav­eled from Burn­ham Har­bor to New Buf­falo, Michi­gan, and were re­turn­ing to Chicago when the en­gine be­gan to smoke and caught fire, po­lice said at the time.

U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Brian Dykens said an alarm panel on the boat “started go­ing off ” and the en­gine shut down. Power was lost, and the ra­dio and bilge pump both failed, po­lice said.

The lone sur­vivor of the crash, a 29-year-old man, was found wrapped in life pre­servers about 12 hours af­ter the boat sank. A fish­er­man found him “to­tally deliri­ous” with hy­pother­mia in the 60-de­gree wa­ter, the Sun-Times re­ported.

He filed a law­suit ear­lier this month against Sail Time Chicago, the com­pany that rented them the boat, claim­ing the ves­sel un­der­went re­pairs to fix “a bat­tery or elec­tri­cal prob­lem” three days be­fore they rented it.

Two other pas­sen­gers aboard the boat — Ash­ley Haws, a 26-year-old Chicago at­tor­ney, and an uniden­ti­fied woman in her 20s — were also found dead fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent, au­thor­i­ties said.

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