Coast Guard ends active search in Lake Michigan for missing boater

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MILWAUKEE – Coast Guard personnel have ended their active search in Lake Michigan, Thursday night, for Joseph Kiehm, last seen Tuesday.

The Coast Guard located Kiehm’s boat, the Wild Irish, adrift in Lake Michigan about 10 miles northeast of Milwaukee, Thursday afternoon, after being notified by the captain of the Lake Express Ferry who was on a scheduled transit to Muskegon, Michigan.

Kiehm was last seen aboard his 26-foot white sailboat at McKinley Marina in the Milwaukee Harbor between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Tuesday.

Only after a probable search area is saturated with the appropriate assets and resources, and persons lost or in distress are still not located, is a decision made to suspend a case.

“The decision to suspend a search and rescue case is one of the most difficult decisions ever to make,” said Cmdr. Erik Leuenberger, chief of response for the Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan.

“I extend my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the Joseph Kiehm. After conducting an exhaustive search with our partner agencies in Lake Michigan and crisscrossing more than 12,000 square miles from the air and surface of the lake we made the decision to suspend the active search.”

The cumulative amount of area searched is more than 12,000 square nautical miles. Coast Guard and partner agency assets have been searching for a total of more than 60 hours.

The search began on noon, Wednesday, when a search-and-rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan in Milwaukee received a phone call from Kiehm’s wife reporting him missing.

Airborne assets searching were rescues crews aboard C-130 Hercules airplanes from Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina and Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ontario, Canada along with aircrews in Dolphin helicopters from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Michigan.

Rescue boat crews from Coast Guard Station Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Police Department Marine Unit also conducted searches, and crews from Coast Guard small boat stations along the Lake Michigan shore conducted numerous searches at area marinas.

The Coast Guard is asking anyone with information about Kiehm to call Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan at 414-747-7190.

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