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Duck hunter's body is recovered

Posted at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Brillion News

COLLINS - The body of Joshua Lueptow has been recovered from the Manitowoc River downstream from Collins

On Monday, November 23, a private search and rescue organization, Wings of Hope Wisconsin, notified the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office that they had located the hunter in approximately 5-6 feet of water with the assistance of sonar and an underwater drone.

Sheriff Dan Hartwig said that the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team recovered the body of Joshua Lueptow from the Manitowoc River at 2:26 p.m. Monday.

"His death is a tragic accident, and no foul play is suspected," the sheriff said in a statement released Tuesday, November 24.

Hartwig shared a message from the Lueptow family to the public.

"They are forever grateful for a

ll the volunteers, friends, and community who helped search for their loved one and supporting their family during this difficult time," Sheriff Hartwig said.

Hartwig thanked the many groups that helped in the search and recovery effort: Wings of Hope Wisconsin, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Valders Ambulance, Valders Fire Department, and the Manitowoc County Coroner’s Office. “We sincerely appreciate the help of Wings of Hope Wisconsin for helping locate Joshua along with the countless number of private and public search organizations for their willingness and efforts to drop everything to assist with this search," the sheriff said. "On behalf of Manitowoc County and our Sheriff’s Office, I would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family of Joshua Lueptow.”

Lueptow was reported missing when another duck hunter on the river near Collins hears someone screaming, and called the sheriff's department. That hunter also found Lueptow's dog. His kayak and other personal belongings were found by searchers.

Wings of Hope is a unique non-profit search and rescue service, based in Medford, Wis.

Wings of Hope Search and Rescue was founded in 2018 by Brad Smith.

A former firefighter and EMT, Smith specializes in search and rescue and has worked with public safety agencies in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Tennessee.

Wings of Hope Search and Rescue is a non-profit organization that specializes in aerial and under water search and rescue utilizing drones.

Wings of Hope describes its mission as one to provide families with finding their lost loved ones with the collaboration of police, DNR, and other rescue departments.

The group is located in central Wisconsin and covers waterways, air and land with some of the most sophisticated equipment available.

Some of the equipment used includes remotely operated underwater drones utilizing state of the art underwater sonar and 3D imaging as well as aerial drones that are equipped with state of the art thermal imaging as well as live imaging.

To learn more, or to donate to keep it flying, visit


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