Search to resume mid-June for missing boaters as Marine Academy wraps up

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HOLLAND, Mich. – Family members and recovery diving non-profit Bruce’s Legacy plan to start a search again mid-June for two boaters still missing after fishing in Lake Michigan.

Aaron Juarez (left), Chris Thode (right)

Aaron Juarez (left), Chris Thode (right)

Six months ago, family members of two boaters turned to law enforcement and volunteer divers with Bruce’s Legacy to help find their loved ones Chris Thode, 25, and Aaron Juarez, 40, who were last heard from Sept. 25. After an extensive search, they came to terms with Lake Michigan as a resting place for their fishermen.

Recently, a cushion and fuse line from a boat turned up but Renee Palermo, Aaron Juarez’s sister, told FOX 17 it was impossible to determine whether they belonged to their missing boat.

Meanwhile, with warm weather ahead, local law enforcement trained for similar situations as the busy boating season approaches during the week-long Michigan Marine Academy in Holland.

All week, new marine deputies from 18 Michigan counties, gathered at Lake Macatawa training on marine law and boating safety. They problem solved real-life scenarios and debunked what worked then what to be on the lookout for this season.

“Possible drunk boater, reckless violation, who knows what we’ll throw at these guys,” explained Randy Poel, retired Sgt. with Grand Haven  Public Safety, aboard a boat Friday.

“What we’re doing is making sure that they are comfortable boarding a boat, and how to ask the right questions.”

It’s this training the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office leaders hope will save lives.

“You can sit in the classroom and look at the power points and read the literature, but when you actually get on the boats,” said Marine Sgt. Cal Keuning with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, “it’s a whole different ball game,

Anyone with information that may aid in the continued search for Thode and Juarez is asked to contact the Sector Lake Michigan Command Center at 414-747-7190.

If anyone who would like to make donations for this non-profit technical diving team in this search, see the Bruce's Legacy website.

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