Police searching for missing boater, priest after accident on Detroit River

Posted at 10:20 PM, Aug 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 17:50:41-04

GROSSE ILE, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Grosse Ile Police Department is searching for two missing boaters after a watercraft capsized Sunday night.

Officials say this is now considered a search and recovery mission.

Grosse Ile Police and Fire, the Wayne County Marine Division and Canadian Coast Guard, responded to an area in the Detroit River, just south of Stoney Island, around 7:30 p.m.

Preliminary reports reveal at least nine people were on the watercraft when it capsized. A boater from Ontario saw the incident happen and helped the seven passengers to safety.

The missing boaters have been identified as 66-year-old Stephen Rooney, a priest from Trenton and 52-year-old Robert Chiles from Grosse Ile.

It's believed Chiles was the boat operator and the boat belongs to him.

It is unclear at this time exactly how the boat capsized.

A total of 14 people were on board, including 5 children at the time of the incident.

A boat of this size (around 40 feet) capsizing is very rare, officials said. They're considering whether or not the boat hit something to make it tip over.

The boat reportedly rolled, according to a witness.

Chiles' wife went missing on the Detroit River in 2019.