Man’s body found in Muskegon River after falling overboard

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MECOSTA COUNTY, Mich. — Dive crews have recovered the body of a man who went missing in the Muskegon River on Sunday morning.

He was found shortly after 4:30 Sunday afternoon following several hours of searching. Authorities said the 47-year-old man was from Big Rapids. His body was found roughly 50 feet off shore in about 14 feet of water near M-20 and the River Ridge Resort, near Stanwood.  Monday, officials identified the man as Lee Cooley.

According to Mecosta County Sheriff Todd Purcell, Cooley and his daughter were out fishing when their boat was caught in a storm and they fell overboard. The daughter tried to help her father swim to safety, but he struggled to stay above water.

The daughter survived.

"The heavy rain caused them to head back toward the boat launch and in process of doing so they struck a piece of debris within the river," Purcell told FOX 17 on scene. "We believe it was a log which ejected them off the boat.”

Purcell said the two were also wearing rain suits at the time and believes the man's pants filled with water, which likely contributed to the difficulties swimming.

“Anytime you’re dealing with the river and heavy rains you get very limited visibility, you can sometimes not even see your hand in front of your face in that type of water," Purcell said.

The Mecosta County Sheriff said teams from Mecosta, Newaygo and Ottawa counties assisted in the recovery.

It marks the second search in the river for a missing person in two days.

The body of a 34-year-old Grand Rapids man was recovered from the river Saturday, near Newaygo. Authorities said the man had been fishing on the riverbank before he went missing

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