A month-long recovery mission for a Michigan boater ended this week after a dive team found his body – just 400 feet from where he was last seen.
Twenty-six-year-old Nathan Robbins was with a friend on the Tittabawasse River on 12 February when their boat capsized. While Robbins tried to get the boat running after it stalled, his sweater got caught in the motor and his efforts to untangle it flipped the vessel over, Mid-Michigan Now reported.
The other man made it safely to the shore and called 911 when Robbins did not surface, but rescue efforts by dive teams, the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Office and the Thomas Township Fire Department were fruitless for weeks.
During a press conference on Thursday, Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel revealed that Robbins’ remains had finally been found 400 feet from the spot where he was last seen. He was just nine feet underwater but dirt, mud, debris and sticks made it difficult for divers to find the body.
Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel said recovery operations were conducted nearly every day with the help of volunteer diving crews after Robbins vanished. On Tuesday, a K9 unit sniffed out a strong scent near the river, around 100 feet from where the remains were ultimately found by divers a day later.
Cadaver dogs had been brought to the scene earlier but cold weather may have prevented them from detecting a strong scent, Marine division Reserve Sergeant Ron Maynard said.
Robbins and his friend were on an early morning fishing trip when the accident took place. They were on their way to visit their girlfriends, MLive reported.
A probe into the incident is underway, and the Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy on Robbins’ body in the upcoming week.
Robbin’s mother Michelle Robbins thanked divers and law enforcement in a Facebook post.
“Nathan has been found, wanted to thank our Family, Friends, Strangers and the wonderful search and Rescue team that did not give up on us!!,” Ms Robbins wrote. “We are finally getting closure and have a tough road ahead of us!! Bless everyone for the support given!!!”
Mr Federspiel also commended recovery crews for their commitment to getting closure for Robbins’ family.
“The visibility is next to zero, it would be impossible to see your hand in from of your face below the surface of the water, especially at nine feet,” Mr Federspiel said on Thursday. “So our divers went to the area where the cadaver dogs alerted and by feeling alone, they were able to feel Mr Robbins’ body.”