The body of a 21-year-old Michigan State University student who has been missing since New Year’s Day has been found, PEOPLE confirms.
After attending a New Year’s Eve party, Parker Haire, an MSU junior majoring in actuarial science, phoned Tuscola County emergency services in Michigan around 7:20 a.m. on Tuesday to report being wet, cold and in need of help. Haire couldn’t tell dispatchers his exact location outside of a factory he saw in the distance, and his call was abruptly cut off before he could deliver any additional information.
Huron County Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson tells PEOPLE that authorities were eventually able to track down Haire’s Jeep along the Sebewaing River, not far from a Christian summer camp, but it wasn’t until Wednesday morning that a search team of Tuscola County Sheriff’s deputies aboard an airboat uncovered the student’s body in waist-deep freezing waters.
“It’s not completely clear what path of travel he took to get there, or why for that matter,” Hanson said in a statement sent to PEOPLE.
“The path of travel on the river point involved eventually veering to the north where he ended up on ice,” the sheriff continued.
Haire’s body was more than two miles from where his vehicle was abandoned after it seemingly became stuck in mud.
Hanson says as Haire walked around on foot, he came across ice that was just three inches thick. He continued to walk along it until the thin ice eventually gave way near a patch of phragmites, an invasive weed that grows in wetlands. The phragmites were another reason why authorities were unable to find his body sooner, as their height blocked much of the search team’s visibility.
Haire was not in proper clothing to survive the icy morning temperatures, Hanson said, and he could have been experiencing hypothermia, which may have disoriented him as he sought help.
“Typically in conditions of such, a human being is not able to survive over one hour when in cold water,” Hanson said.
“Water temperatures were estimated to be in the mid-thirties,” he continued, “not to mention that the air temperatures yesterday and last night were between the teens in mid-twenties.”
An autopsy was conducted this morning and an investigation into Haire’s death is ongoing, Hanson told PEOPLE.