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Shoe belonging to missing boater found on Lake of the Woods; fundraising, vigil planned

OAK ISLAND, Minn. - A shoe belonging to one of the three men missing from Lake of the Woods last week apparently has been found. Family members of Keith Ayers reported they found one of his shoes on the shore of Oak Island on Thursday, according ...

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A boat searches Monday morning near Flag Island for the three men who are missing after their boat capsized late Friday night on Lake of the Woods. Frank Walsh / Bay Store Camp
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OAK ISLAND, Minn. – A shoe belonging to one of the three men missing from Lake of the Woods last week apparently has been found.

Family members of Keith Ayers reported they found one of his shoes on the shore of Oak Island on Thursday, according to a report from the Northern Light Region newspaper in Baudette, Minn.

The Lake of the Woods County Sheriff’s Department posted the article on its website Thursday night.

Ayers, 28, and two companions, Cody Joseph Ostendorf, 24, and Justin Kelly Haugtvedt, 22, all of Baudette, were reported missing after their 16-foot Lund boat was found capsized last Saturday afternoon on the northeast corner of Flag Island.

They were last seen around 11:30 p.m. Friday leaving Sunset Lodge on Oak Island, near the international border on the north side of the lake. Oak Island is east of the of Minnesota's Northwest Angle and more than 20 miles north of Long Point on the lake's southern shore.

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The shoe discovery was the only major development Thursday. While air searches by the U.S. Border Patrol were not conducted Thursday, they were expected to resume today.

Vigil, fund campaign

Meanwhile a lantern/candlelight vigil is planned at 7 p.m. at the Zippel Bay State Park swimming beach, located on southern shores of Lake of the Woods.

People are being asked to bring lanterns or candles -- preferably glass that can be set in the sand, according to a Facebook page, Vigil for Our Boys, being used to publicize the event.

A GoFundMe page launched three days ago has raised more than $21,000.

The money is being raised to assist family members of the three men, according to Retina LaValla, a Baudette resident who started the page.

“We’re still waiting on finding something out about the boys,” LaValla said in a telephone interview. "It’s just a mystery. Are they missing? Are they alive? Are they in the water.”

Haugtvedt originally is from Warren, Minn. Ostendorf grew up in the Twin Cities, while Ayers, a fishing guide, is from Pennsylvania.

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“Justin -- we call him Huggy -- is one of my very, very close friends,” she said.

LaValla started the GoFundMe page Monday night with a goal to raise $3,000, to be divided equally among the three families to help with their expenses while the search is underway, she said.

“It just took off,” she said.

The fund surpassed $10,000 on Thursday and topped $21,000 by Friday morning.

“These are our friends and our family,” she wrote on the website. “Their immediate family have came up to Baudette to stay and wait for news and answers. Your donations will help all the families with their expenses at this time. We all keep praying and hope that we can help them in this difficult time.”

Related Topics: LAKE OF THE WOODS
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