Boater missing for 6 days found alive

An undated photo of Kurt DeYoung courtesy his family.


CASSOPOLIS, Mich. (WOOD) — A boater who had been missing for six days was found alive on Tuesday by authorities in Cass County.

Kurt DeYoung, 46, was found Tuesday on Diamond Island in Cassopolis, not far from where his pontoon boat was discovered on Saturday.

On April 8, DeYoung left Park Shore Marina on a pontoon boat to go fishing in Diamond Lake, but he never came home. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department had been searching for him for days on the ground and from the air.

“They searched the island and they didn’t find anything,” DeYoung’s mother Terry DeYoung said.

She told 24 Hour News 8 she had started preparing herself for confirmation her son was dead.

“They told me to be optimistic that we can find him, but there’s also the problem that we will find him the other way,” she said.

“I was still keeping hope that we’d find him alive,” Kurt DeYoung’s friend George Werner said. “We all just kept wishing for the best that we’d find him alive. Thank God we did.”

When authorities spotted DeYoung walking between two residences on Tuesday, he was out of sorts and combative. They called Werner to try to calm him down.

“I said, ‘Look, it’s me,'” Werner said. “And he said, ‘Aw, George, I love you, man.'”

News that her son had been found alive “hit my heart,” Terry DeYoung said.

“He’s my son,” she said. “The outcome is absolutely what I hoped it would be. So I just thank God that he was safe and he’s in my arms again.”

Emergency crews said DeYoung was initially incoherent and struggled to describe what happened. The sheriff’s office noted he had been without his medication since he went missing.

He was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Niles to be checked out, but is expected to be OK.

He was also reunited with his mother.

“I said, ‘Kurt Alan, I love you,'” Terry DeYoung said. “And he just grabbed me and hugged me, and that was it.”

The sheriff’s office said that DeYoung later told detectives the motor on his boat stopped working while he was fishing and his phone went dead. He said he stayed on the boat as it drifted across the lake to Diamond Island, where it would later be discovered. As it became cold, he looked for a place to shelter. He said he found a residence with an open door, but didn’t remember anything after that.

The sheriff’s office said the doors of the residences on Diamond Island, including the ones DeYoung was found near, appeared to be locked when deputies checked on Saturday and Sunday.

The matter is still under investigation.

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