FRUITLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Muskegon County dive team says an angler they’re searching for in Lake Michigan is a Rockford man.
Authorities resumed their search for the fisherman, identified by the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office as 65-year-old Donald Walter Schiele, Thursday morning.
He was about 300 yards offshore when he fell out of his aluminum fishing boat near Michillinda Lodge in Fruitland Township, southwest of Whitehall. His self-propelled boat then took off, according to White Lake Fire Authority Chief Gregory Holman.
It’s unknown what caused him to fall out of the boat. Schiele was not wearing a life jacket even though there were life jackets on board, authorities told 24 Hour News 8.
“There were life vests on board. They’re one of those things that you just can’t say enough about because when you need them you need them. There’s no substitute for them,” Muskegon County sheriff’s Lt. Shane Brown said.
Witnesses standing on a bluff overlooking the lake heard his calls for help around 11:20 a.m. Wednesday.
“They could only hear him for about a minute. The water was extremely cold and that really zaps your strength,” Brown said.
Holman was the first to arrive at the scene. He jumped into the lake and swam out as far as he could, but had to turn back because of the cold water temperatures.
Holman said he could no longer see the fisherman when he got back on shore.
Several watercraft combed the waters for the man Wednesday, including a boat from the U.S. Coast Guard. Two Coast Guard helicopters also aided in the effort.