Conservation officers use sonar to locate body in Negaunee Lake

Contact: : Acting Lt. Grant Emery, 231-775-9727
Agency: Natural Resources

May 18, 2019

Conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources assisted with the recovery of a drowning victim this morning at Negaunee Lake in Osceola County.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office was contacted Friday at 5:57 p.m. regarding a person who submerged under water and was not seen again. It was reported that the individual was launching a boat on the northwest side of Negaunee Lake when the boat drifted away from the trailer and began to float away. The victim jumped in the water in an attempt to retrieve the boat, but went under water and did not reappear.

Divers with the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Dive Team were unable to locate the body Friday evening due to poor visibility in the water. Aware of the DNR’s advanced equipment, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office requested that conservation officers assist when the search resumed this morning.

Conservation Officers Josh Reed, who patrols Mecosta County and Jeff Ginn, who patrols Newaygo County, arrived at the lake this morning with a DNR river boat equipped with down and side scan sonar – advanced sonar equipment with high resolution. Reed and Ginn worked with the dive team and were able to locate the body within 25 minutes.

“Everything that you see on the screen is high resolution,” said Reed. “You’re able to pick up shapes so you know what you’re looking at – if it’s a tree or a log, and things that are suspended in the water. The high resolution allows you to locate a drowning victim in conditions with poor visibility.”

The Evart Fire Department, the Big Rapids Fire Department and Osceola Emergency Medical Services assisted with the search.

“Conservation officers work in remote areas and are able to navigate difficult terrain due to their unique training, survival skills and equipment,” said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “This advanced equipment helps our officers to be as effective as possible when searching difficult environments. I’m proud that Ginn and Reed were able to help, despite the unfortunate outcome.”

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. To learn more, go to Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.