Search ends for fisherman.

August 15, 2016

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LUDINGTON — The US Coast Guard announced late this afternoon that it was ending its search in Lake Michigan for Steve Bruce, 62, of Hart.

“This is the hardest decision we have to make,” said Cmdr. Leanne Lusk, of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. “Coast Guard helicopters and boats crews, as well as numerous members of the local first responder community have been searching nonstop since we received the report of a man falling overboard. Our deepest condolences go out to the families of those involved.”

The body of Brian Waslusky, 53, of Hart was recovered near Pentwater Sunday night, and emergency personnel spent 17 hours through the night and into Monday searching for Bruce. A third fishermen, Russell Pierce, survived. The threesome “had been fighting a big fish” when the incident occurred, according to a press release from Oceana County Sheriff’s Office.

Waslusky was trying to net the fish but dropped the net, and then Bruce jumped in the lake to retrieve the fish and net. Waslusky jumped into the lake to assist him.

Coast Guard boat crews from Station Ludington, and Station Muskegon, and helicopter aircrews from Air Station Traverse City, and Air Station Detroit, along with units from Oceana County Sheriff’s Office marine patrol, Mason County Sheriff’s Office marine patrol, Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office marine patrol, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Michigan State Police searched Lake Michigan continuously for nearly 17 hours, covering more than 193 square miles. The search crews did not locate any signs of the missing man.

“At approximately 9:17 p.m. on August 14, 2016, the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division was contacted by the U.S. Coast Guard and was advised that there was a situation possibly involving two persons drowning in Lake Michigan off from the Little Point Sable Lighthouse,” the OCSO press release stated. “The Oceana County Marine Boat immediately responded. The Oceana County Dive Team was also advised of the situation. As responding units were coming to the area, we were advised that a vessel with Coast Guard personnel was transporting one of the victims who had been recovered towards Pentwater. Shortly after that Coast Guard vessel arrived in Pentwater, the victim was pronounced dead. That victim was identified as 53-year-old Brian Waslusky of Hart.

“While checking the area, the Oceana County Marine Patrol found the boat the incident had originated from. On that boat was Russell Pierce. Pierce advised that he and Brian Waslusky had been fishing with Steve Bruce on his 23-foot Bayliner fishing boat. Russell advised that they had been fighting a big fish. Pierce advised that Waslusky had attempted to net the fish and had dropped the net. Pierce stated that when Waslusky dropped the net, Bruce went in the lake after the fish and net. Pierce states that when Mr. Bruce went in the lake, Waslusky went in to assist, thus leaving Pierce to man the boat. Pierce stated that Waslusky immediately began to struggle, and Bruce then began to struggle as well.

“Waslusky was recovered a short time later, but Mr. Bruce went down in the water.

Rescue personnel were using Little Point Sable Lighthouse and the Pentwater Yacht Club as bases for the search and rescue operation.

It was reported that neither drowning victim was wearing a life vest.


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