Search suspended for missing fisherman on Lake Michigan

Tribune Staff • Jul 5, 2018 at 6:57 PM

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search late Thursday afternoon for an overdue fisherman on Lake Michigan near Kewaunee, Wisconsin, who has been missing since Wednesday evening.

Missing is Mark Wautelet, 38. He is approximately 6 feet tall and weighs about 270 pounds, with brownish hair.

No information was available from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety as to whether or not there is a possibility that this could be the same person whose body was pulled ashore at Grand Haven State Park early Thursday afternoon.

Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan received a notification from the Kewaunee emergency dispatch at approximately 11:15 p.m. Wednesday of a 35-foot boat with one person on board who had departed the Kewaunee Marina at 5 p.m. that day and was expected back by 9:30 p.m. The man’s last known cellular use was at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Air Station Traverse City launched a helicopter and arrived on the scene at 1:50 a.m. Thursday. The helicopter crew located the vessel beached on the shore with no persons on board.

The Kewaunee County Sheriff's Department responded and confirmed there was no one on board, and that the boat was rigged for fishing and the engines were still in the clutched-ahead position.

Due to heavy fog on the west side of Lake Michigan, the helicopter was not able to land to refuel. It departed the area at about 3:20 a.m. to refuel at Traverse City. 

The Coast Guard said many boat units, as well as the helicopter, searched a total of 425 square miles in 20 hours. The units included a Coast Guard Auxiliary fixed-wing aircraft from Muskegon and a Royal Canadian Air Force C-130 out of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ontario.

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