PETOSKEY, Mich. (AP) — Divers hope to locate and repair the arm of an underwater statue depicting a crucifix of Jesus, part of a yearly event that draws hundreds to a frozen bay in northern Michigan.
About 1,300 people gathered earlier this month to view the 11-foot tall, one-ton crucifix in Little Traverse Bay near the Petoskey shore, the Petoskey News-Review reported. But many attendees questioned why the statue's arm is missing.
Compression forces from the ice likely caused the arm to break, said Dennis Jessick, one of the event's organizers.
"Being submerged in 22 feet of water, with ice moving up and down from thawing and freezing and the subsequent waves creates a lot of force and I can see how it could break off," he said.
Event organizers and divers hope to locate the missing arm in the spring, Jessick said.
"We feel bad about the arm missing and are doing everything we can to find it," he said.
This isn't the first time the statue's arms have been damaged.
The crucifix was brought to Petoskey in 1962 as a way to honor people who have died in bodies of water and moved to its current spot in 1986.
A newspaper article form 1996 said that extensive repairs were made to the statue before it was placed in the bay because both of its arms were broken. Several years after the piece was placed, divers discovered one of the arms had broken again.
One of the divers took the arm but died shortly after. His wife then sent the arm to a man from Southgate, who kept the piece for years before returning it.
"It's just sad we have to deal with the missing arm again," Jessick said. "We hope we can find it again and we are going to give it everything we got to find it and reattach it.