Family, friends and many members of the community searched for Smith in the area between where he was last seen, his home on the 700 block of Fifth Street, and Pomorski’s Tavern at 1302 S Madison Street where his truck was parked. Police believed that to get back to his truck or to home, he may have tried to cross the Pere Marquette Lake at the Washington Avenue bridge. They looked for signs that Smith may have fallen through the ice. During one search by the Kent County Sheriff's office attempted to search the water while a tugboat broke up ice in the channel. The ice was refreezing and sealing up behind them and the search was called off. During a later search, temperatures were rising and ice in the bayou was starting to thaw, again making the search difficult.
On March 27, 2008, Smith's body was found in nearby Lake Michigan by an employee of the Lake Michigan Car Ferry who was aboard the SS Spartan. An autopsy by forensic pathologist Dr. Stephan Cohle later determined that Smith had accidentally drowned and most likely was intoxicated at the time of his death.
The Press News Service reported that, "The autopsy found ethanol (alcohol) levels in Smith's blood and urine were elevated, but noted the potential for postmortem production of ethanol made it difficult to determine a blood alcohol level. According to the report, Smith "was known to have been drinking for many hours prior to last being known to be alive." Cohle also added that Smith had a history of alcohol abuse."
Authorities believe Smith was trying to cut across the ice on a narrow section of the lake when he fell through and drowned.
Gabriel was employed by Whitehall Industries. According to their Web site, the company is located on Sixth Street in Ludington and manufactures automotive sunroof tracks and other precision aluminum extrusions and machine fabricated components.
Name/age: Gabriel Smith, 27
Last seen: 12/8/07
Physical Description: 6 feet tall, 190 pounds, short brown hair, hazel eyes.
Last wearing: a green Carhartt jacket, a dark-colored baseball cap, a white T-shirt with writing or a design on the front and dark or camouflaged pants.
Investigating Agency: Ludington Police at 231-843-3425, or 231-869-5858.
Medendorp, Lisa. (2008, April 29). Death called accidental drowning. Press News Service. Retrieved December 11, 2012 from http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/04/death_called_accidental_drowni.html
Linn, Jennifer. (2007, December 21). Weather has hampered search for missing Ludington man. Ludington Daily News. Retrieved December 11, 2012 from http://www.ludingtondailynews.com/news.php?story_id=38493
Linn, Jennifer. (2007, December 28). Search continues for Gabe Smith. Ludington Daily News. Retrieved December 11, 2012 from http://www.ludingtondailynews.com/news.php?story_id=38541