Search for missing Ontonagon County teen comes to an end, body found Monday afternoon

Western UP

County, Michigan – (WJMN) updated on 4/26 at 7:57 pm

The Ontonagon County Sheriff’s Office says the body of mission 17-year-old Cameron Besonen was found Monday afternoon. The teen has been the subject of an extensive three-day search in the woods near his home. His body has been discovered by teams who had been battling snow and sub-freezing temperatures in their attempts to locate him.

Ontonagon County Sheriff’s Office and County Emergency Management made the announcement late Monday afternoon after notifying members of the family.

During the past few days, over 400 volunteers along with local, state, tribal, and federal agencies searched for the Besonen, who was autistic and non-verbal combined with the weather, complicated the efforts.

Aircraft from The US Coast Guard, Michigan State Police, and Houghton Wing Civil Air Patrol combined with ground teams, covered and searched miles of rugged terrain since the teenager was reported missing Friday evening.

Residents and businesses from throughout the area also provided extensive support during the search and rescue mission.

“Our community mourns the loss of this young man,” said Ontonagon County Sheriff Dale Rantala. Rescuers had been committed to finding him and worked tirelessly throughout the operation. Something like this is truly heartbreaking.”

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HAIGHT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJMN) – Law enforcement and community members continue the search for 17-year-old Cam Besonen.

His family reported Besonen missing around 6 p.m. on Friday, April 23. He went missing from the Paulding/Bruce Crossing area. Besonen has autism and is non-verbal.

Ontonagon and Gogebic County law enforcement agencies responded immediately.

Video shows dozens of cars lined up along the road as volunteers line up with law enforcement to help find Cameron.

“We’ve had an extensive search effort underway, including multiple agencies. Hundreds of volunteers, which we are thankful for,” said Bill Witt, Undersheriff for Ontonagon County Sheriff’s Office. “We’ve covered hundreds of acres, mass amounts of area, very rural area, very remote area, and inaccessible areas. And so far, we are continuing our search. We’ve expanded our search area quite a bit now, since we’ve eliminated a lot of areas. But we will have additional resources that will be coming in later today and tomorrow also.”

17-year-old Cam Besonen. Photo courtesy of Jill Keeley-Besonen.

Search and Rescue organizations from all over the U.P., and even Wisconsin, have come together to help find Besonen. The United States Coast Guard and the Michigan State Police aviation and K-9 units have been assisting in the search as well.

The biggest issue the police are dealing with is visibility.

“With the recent snowfall we’ve had, both aerial visibility and ground visibility has been drastically reduced and for safety purposes. We had a really good search day yesterday with the aviation unit and ground search personnel. But unfortunately, we haven’t come up with anything,” said Witt.

If you would like to assist in finding Cam Besonen, please go to the Haight Township Hall. If you have any information on Besonen’s disappearance, contact the Ontonogan County Sheriff’s Office at (906) 884-4901 or call 911.

We also spoke with Kay Richter, a Pastor at First Lutheran Church in Ewen and Our Savior Lutheran Church in Paynesville. She was also serving as a volunteer kitchen coordinator. She says just about every restaurant in Ontonagon and Gogebic County have sent food. Church groups have been making soups and sandwiches. Groups from NMU and Michigan Tech have shown up to help. One of the biggest needs is fruit and granola bars. Something searchers can put in their pockets.

“We’re waiting. And instructions, making sure they are following the directions of those who are leading because the search has to be very methodical,” said Richter. “It’s very hard to be patient. We recognize that, but while you’re waiting, pray, get to know some of the other and support one another. We are a community. We work together and we are all in this together.”

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