Search for missing Hamlin boater suspended for the evening.

September 22, 2019

Search for missing Hamlin boater suspended for the evening.


By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

HAMLIN TOWNSHIP — The second day of searching for a missing boater on Hamlin Lake has ended for the evening. Deputies at Wilson Hill Park said they will be back out early Monday morning to continue searching for Robert James Conklin, 54, of West Olive, who went missing Saturday afternoon, Sept. 21, 2019, in the narrows of the lake, which divides the upper and lower portions of the lake. Earlier today, Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole said his office is presuming that Conklin drowned after falling out of his 18-feet long bass style boat about 1 p.m. Saturday. The incident happened in water that was 6- to 8-feet deep.

Divers from the Mason County Sheriff’s Office dive team and Oceana County Sheriff’s Office dive team spent the remainder of Saturday searching and started again at 6 a.m. today, Sunday. Weather conditions most of the day included heavy rains and winds. Deputies this evening said the search has been challenging for divers due to the high concentration of weeds in that area. Sonar equipment has also been unable to pick up accurate readings due to the weeds. 

Ground crews from local fire departments searched the north shore of Hamlin Lake today.

Conklin was with a female who a passerby was able to rescue. Emergency personnel were called to the lake at 1:05 p.m. and have been searching for him. Cole said the man was not wearing a life jacket and is not a resident of Mason County.

Cole said the two people fell overboard but it is unclear how they fell. A witness told MCP that she had seen a man hanging onto the side of a boat in that vicinity in the early afternoon, but the man nor woman had given no indication that anything was wrong.

Emergency units dispatched Saturday included Mason County Sheriff’s Office, including dive team, Oceana County Sheriff’s Office dive team (including Pentwater Police Department), Hamlin Township Fire Department, Michigan State Police, Ludington Fire Department, Grant Township Fire Department, Custer Fire Department, Scottville Fire Department, U.S. Coast Guard, including helicopter, Ludington police/fire boat, and Life EMS. The Mason County Victim Services Unit is also on scene.

Wilson Hill Park remains closed during the search operation. 

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