TOWN OF LYNDON, Wis. - After nearly two weeks of searching, a missing Plymouth boater's family says it finally has peace of mind.
Volunteer searchers found the body of James Piechocki just before eight Saturday morning.
Piechocki disappeared on Lake Ellen in Sheboygan County on August 27th. His family says the 28-year-old Pulaski native was partying on a boat with his cousins. Authorities say he fell in around 1:00 a.m.
"It's a bittersweet day," said his cousin, Amber Johnson, saying she's relieved he's been found.
Piechocki's relatives say a benefit for his search fund took on a whole new meaning Saturday.
"Oh, thank you God. We're very extremely happy because now we finally have him," said Lisa Burmeister, his aunt.
Amber Johnson: "The goal always was to bring him home. And we've succeeded in that."
The official search had been called off by authorities after two days. Piechocki's family said they'd continue at all costs.
"We lived on that lake for two weeks. Every day," said Burmeister.
But, the actual costs of the search piled up for the family.
"After the county rescue teams exhausted all of their resources, it became our burden to not only fund the search and rescue teams, but also to find the teams to come out," said Johnson.
That's when volunteer divers like David Vande Vyver stepped up to search through the murky lake water.
"All you have is this one foot beam up like that with your flashlight, and that's all you can see," Vande Vyver, who was at the benefit Saturday.
Family members say searchers were out boating on the lake Saturday morning when they found Piechocki's body.
Now they're finding comfort in remembering the good times with the young man whom some called "Jamie."
"He had the most amazing smile," said Johnson.
"He was very mischievous," said Burmeister.
They say the community's support has set them on the right path towards healing.
"We had a purpose. There's a reason why we're here right now. We'll go home tonight and start the grieving process," said Johnson.
The family says funeral arrangements are still being made. Another memorial fundraiser is set for September 29th in the town of Angelica.
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