Fisherman’s body found.

April 7, 2020

White’s boat is pictured in the background.

Fisherman’s body found.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

WEARE TOWNSHIP — The body of Gary Wayne White, 70, of Hart was found at the bottom of the Pentwater River in water approximately 12 feet deep Tuesday, April 7, shortly before 11 a.m., said Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast.

Rescuers had been searching for the missing fisherman in the river after another fisherman found White’s boat in the river’s cattail swamp with its motor idling Monday, April 6, around 5 p.m., said Sheriff Mast.

White’s body was found “pretty close to where his boat was,” said Mast. A Michigan State Police cadaver dog and sonar units helped pinpoint the location. A diver then retrieved the body.

At this point it is not known if White’s death was caused by a medical condition or an accident, but an autopsy is “very likely,” Mast said. “We will find out.” There is no evidence of foul play.

White’s Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck was parked at the River Barn Boat Launch near where his boat was found.

His flat-bottom river boat was found half full of water, Sheriff Mast said.

A US Coast Guard helicopter circled the area, and several firefighters from Hart and Pentwater departments were searching along both sides of the river on foot Monday night. Divers searched, along with officers in boats from the Department of Natural Resources and the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office.

“On Monday afternoon, April 6, 2020, a fisherman launched his canoe onto the Pentwater River from the Monroe Road launch to go steelhead fishing,” states an OCSO press release. “At the time he launched his canoe, he heard a boat in the area with its motor running. This was just after 1 p.m.

“After this fisherman had been fishing in the area for a few hours, he returned to the launch and heard that boat still in the same area with its motor running. He thought this suspicious, so he went to investigate. He found the boat in the same area with the motor still running idling, but no one was in or around the boat. He then called 911 to notify authorities of the situation.

“Responding to the scene were officers from our department, MSP, DNR, Pentwater PD, Life EMS and eventually the coast guard. After investigation, we found that a 70-year-old Hart man was missing, and a search commenced. Multiple boats were launched in this search, and a coast guard helicopter was employed. Divers searched the river on Monday evening until dark when the search was halted,” the press release states.

“This morning, April 7, 2020, a state police cadaver dog came to the scene to assist in the search. Upon searching the river, the dog indicated a suspicious area. The DNR then used their sonar electronics to confirm what the dog indicated in the area. A sheriff’s deputy diver was then deployed into the river and helped to recover the victim in approximately 12 feet of water. The victim was not wearing a life vest.”

“It was a nice cooperation between the agencies,” the sheriff said.

This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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