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Body of missing camper found in Baker Lake

Jose David Gonzalez Arroyo, 43, went missing at Baker Lake early Friday, June 16, 2017. His body was found about two weeks later.
Jose David Gonzalez Arroyo, 43, went missing at Baker Lake early Friday, June 16, 2017. His body was found about two weeks later. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

The body of a missing man was recovered Thursday afternoon from Baker Lake, about two weeks after he went missing from a popular campground, according to the Whatcom County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Jose David Gonzalez Arroyo, of Lynnwood, wandered from a campground at Horseshoe Cove around 12:30 a.m. June 16, in the dark and heavy rain. He had been talking and drinking with family and friends, near a group site where four years earlier he married his wife, Courtenay Burnett, she said.

No clues suggested what direction he went, or whether he slipped and fell. Authorities noted Gonzalez Arroyo wasn’t a strong swimmer, and he didn’t often go for a walk in the woods on his own.

For the next two weeks Burnett, extended family, search dogs, and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter crew scoured roads, campsites and bathrooms on the south end of the lake, but found no trace of Gonzalez Arroyo. He left with nothing but the clothes he wore. His keys and wallet had been left behind. One public bulletin said he took a pack of gum, but later, even the gum was found in the campsite, Burnett said.

Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies were notified about a body floating in the lake around noon Thursday, in the general area of where he went missing, about two miles north of the dam.

An autopsy confirmed his identity Friday, said Dr. Gary Goldfogel, the Whatcom County medical examiner. The evidence suggests that Gonzalez Arroyo drowned. He was 43.

There were no signs of foul play, Goldfogel said. The reason he went missing remains a mystery.

Friends set up a page on the site gofundme.com, Jose David Gonzalez Arroyo Fund, to help the family cover costs of divers and other expenses. Donations are still being accepted. His loved ones hope to transport his body to his homeland of Mexico for burial.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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