Body of missing boater recovered from Tittabawassee River
SAGINAW, Mich. (WNEM) - The body of a missing man has been recovered from the Tittabawassee River after a boat capsized last month.
Thomas Township Fire Chief Mike Cousins said first responders were notified on Feb. 12 around 1:30 a.m. that a boat with two occupants capsized on the Tittabawassee River near the bridge on Gratiot Road.
Related: Emergency teams continue search for missing man
The Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department said the boat started to take on water, and one of the passengers attempted to get the motor back running when his clothing got tangled. The other passenger was able to free his friend’s clothing, but he started taking water into his overalls. He took off his clothes and swam to shore, but the man said he saw his friend go under and not resurface.
That afternoon, the Saginaw County Sheriff’s office identified the missing man as Nathan James Robbins, a 26-year-old man from Tittabawassee Township.
On Thursday, March 16, the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department announced Robbins’ body was found on Wednesday, March 15.
Robbins’ body was found after MSP brought a cadaver dog in to help aid their daily search, Sheriff William Federspiel said.
The dogs sniffed out a spot on the river where his body was eventually found nine feet under the water, Federspiel said, adding Robbins’ body was found 400 feet where the incident was alleged to have happened and 500 feet south of the bridge.
Police said the water’s condition made the search more difficult.
“His body was found nine feet under the water. And that water, much like the Saginaw river, is full of dirt, mud, debris, sticks, and the visibility is next to zero. So, it would be nearly impossible to see your hand in front of your face diving below the surface of the water, especially at nine feet, Federspiel said. “So, our divers actually went to the area where the cadaver dog alerted and swam under the water to the depths where the body was and by feel alone were able to feel Mr. Robbins’ body under the water.”
Rob Maynard, a reserve sergeant of the Marine Division with the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department, said there were difficulties because the incident happened in early February.
“Anytime we’re involved with cold water, cold weather, it greatly, it makes things much more difficult. We had our regulators freezing, we had a lot of ice floes coming down the river that made it very hazardous to both the boats operating on the surface and to any divers we chose to put down,” Maynard said.
Greg Prenzler, reserve lieutenant of the Marine Division with the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department, said overall there were at least 100 people out looking for Robbins’ body.
An autopsy is scheduled for the coming week and the investigation is still open, Federspiel said.
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