Archives for October 2016

Videoray ROV article on Lake Superior Search

Complete article can be read HERE: 

Joint effort by Crossmon Consulting, Bruce’s Legacy, Great Lakes Water Studies Institute, and Local Agencies perform deep water recovery safely

The story was very sad, but also not unusual. Three boaters – aged 9, 43, and 61, had been missing for two weeks. A large scale search by the Coast Guard Station Marquette, Michigan, Coast Guard Station Portage, Michigan, Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Michigan, Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay, Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Canadian Department of National Defense was conducted. Also searching were aircraft from around the U.S. and Canada including C-130s. The search covered 14,000 square miles over 151 hours, but was unsuccessful and therefore called off.

Crossmon Consulting and Bruce’s Legacy – both small organizations that are called upon to find drowning victims, sprang into action. Using their collective experience from many successful searches, they used clues such as a final cell phone ping to determine search areas, and towed sidescan sonars to conduct the wide area search. After three days of searching, Keith Cormican of Bruce’s Legacy located and identified the a boat the correct shape and size in 280 feet of water – well beyond of reach of most divers – with his Klein Marine Systems 3900 side scan sonar. Crossmon’s VideoRay Pro 4 remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was used to confirm that the boat was indeed the right boat, and all three victims were located near the boat. Using the small, portable Pro 4 they retrieved two bodies from the wreck. The third was entangled and needed the efforts of an intervention-class ROV.

A few days later, the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute, using a boat from Michigan Tech, used a larger vehicle with a cutter to free and recover the final victim. The efforts of several specialists were involved in this project – Tom Crossmon and Dave Phillips of Crossmon Consulting, Keith Cormican and Beth Darst of Bruce’s Legacy, and Hans VanSumeren and John Lutchko from Great Lakes Water Studies, among many.

Tyler Spink Search

tyler-spink-lake-michigan-search-bruces-legacy

Tyler Spink of Kalkaska, MI was kayaking with a friend in the waters off Platte Bay Monday, Sept. 5th, when the kayaks capsized. A fisherman in the area reportedly heard screaming and found two capsized kayaks. They were able to rescue Spink’s friend.

The National Parks Service, which was the last agency searching for Tyler ended its search Friday, Sept. 10.

On Sept 26th, I was contacted by a friend from Michigan informing me of the search for Tyler Spink. I reached out to Tyler’s family to inform them of Bruce’s Legacy and offered our services.

I learned that the family was not from the Platt Bay area yet the mother was so determined, she wasn’t leaving without her son. Also, the family was very involved with organizing searches after the local authorities had exhausted their search efforts.

On October 6th, we drove to Manitowoc, WI. There, we boarded a ferry with the truck and boat to get us across the lake. Then, five hours later we arrived in Ludington, MI to begin our two hour drive North to Frankfort, MI.

I reached out to Drew Morris from Muskegon, MI to ask for his assistance. I had met Drew last year, at this same time when Bruce’s Legacy was in Holland, Mi to search for two missing fisherman. Drew is a retired school teacher who has spent a lifetime on the lake with his charter fishing service. He has a wealth of Lake Michigan boating knowledge. Graciously, Drew and his wife Kathy agreed to help and began making arrangements to get off from work.

We all met with Dave and Kelly, Tyler’s stepdad and mother. later that evening and talked about the search.

October 7th, after looking at the lake’s weather forecast, we knew it going to be rough waters. The southern winds forecasted would make the 12 mile run a bumpy ride out and back but the search area would be protected by some shoreline. We were able to broadly scan the area we planned to focus on first. The underwater survey was necessary to get an idea what the bottom contour was like and what we were up against. There was a big drop off that we had been warned of, by previous searchers. After some short scanning the waves were building up, so we headed back to Frankfort port.

With Drew navigating  the waves, we made it back safely with even more respect for this massive lake. We then met with Kelly and Dave (Tylers parents) for dinner.

October 8th, the winds proved too much and wouldn’t allow us out on the lake. We took this downtime to travel up to Empire and scope out another boat access. This proved not to be a good location for our boat as there was no dock in place. We then stopped at a location near the Platte River where Tyler and his friend had left from, to enter Lake Michigan. They had planned to camp on sand dunes, along the lake.

Visiting these locations was beneficial to us. It provided a better perspective of our intended search area from a shoreline view. Sunday’s forecast looks more favorable for us to actually get out on the lake to get searching. We’ll keep you updated as we go along.

Update as of Oct 16th

Oct 9th we covered a large area again with only finding a 16’ sail boat in about 160’ of water.

Oct 10th we covered a lot of area and late in the afternoon the laptop decided to do a Windows 10 update. This took close to two hours to complete while floating out in this area. Thank you Windows 10!!!

Oct 11th we picked up from where the computer shut down from the previous day and within minutes we picked up on our first image of a good target. We worked on getting the cages on the target and ran out of time knowing the wind was going to make a rough ride back.

Oct 12th   the winds blew and waves are too big. We pulled into the Bay View Restaurant to use up some time and use their WiFi. We already had homemade biscuits and gravy that Kelly made for us but found ourselves ordering a light breakfast and getting some much needed work done on the computer. Before we knew it, it was 1:30 and they close at 2 pm. It was a first for any of us, to be in one restaurant for two consecutive meals. The staff brought us fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and fresh apples, in addition to our orders.  I was able to share some of what we do with a few of the locals to help them better understand our mission.

Oct 13th hoping that the waves would be better, we poked out on the lake and decided that we would have to wait it out for calmer winds.

The fall weather has not been good to us here. We have been able to sneak out for some time here and there but usually with a rough ride. from the search area and back 12 is miles to the Franfort Marina.

The toughest decision for us is knowing when to say “when”, even though we want so badly to continue for the family. The local Coast Guard official explained to us that this is normal fall weather here with unpredictable changes in short time spans.

With deepest regrets to Tyler’s amazing and inspiring family, we will need to return in the spring when weather allows a safe search on this powerful body of water.

We have so many people to thank,  we hope we haven’t forgotten anyone.

Thanks and appreciation to/for:

  • For the cabin we stayed at; so wonderful – so generous
  • Home cooked meals and people paying for some meals
  • Storm Cloud Brewhouse and Restaurant
  • Roadhouse Mexican Bar and Grill
  • Bay View Grill for the 3 meals with wifi and cookies  
  • Hungry Tummy Restaurant
  • Lew Stempki  for passing our Bruce’s Legacy information to Tyler’s Family and getting us connected
  • The Frankfort Coast Guard Station and Staff
  • Drew and Kathy Morris and West Marine for giving Drew time to lend his skills
  • The Family of Tyler Spink
  • Community, we would be sitting in a restaurant, people would drive by and see our boat sitting there and call the restaurant and pay for our meals over the phone. Thanks to the anonymous people dropping off food and cards at the cabin when we were searching. Many offers of hospitality throughout that we were unable to even take advantage of because we were so well taken care of.

Houghton-Hancock Michigan, Lake Superior Search

Saturday, September 17th, 61-year-old Keith Karvonen of Atlantic Mine, MI; 43-year-old Steven Chartre of Negaunee/Ishpeming area and his 9-year-old son Ethan boarded Karvonen’s 14-foot boat to do some fishing. Later that evening they were reported missing

Once the report was made, searching for the trio were crews from: Coast Guard Station Marquette, Michigan, Coast Guard Station Portage, Michigan, Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Michigan, Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay, Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Canadian Department of National Defense. Also searching are aircraft from around the U.S. and Canada including C-130s.

The crews ended their massive and exhaustive search efforts on September 21st. I reached out to the family to offer our services to which they said that they were in contact Tom Crossman out of Duluth MN. I had actually met Tom earlier this year at a conference, so I decided to reach out to him and see if he wanted our help. Tom graciously accepted.

September 28th, Beth and I headed out on the 7 hour drive for Houghton, Michigan. We met with Tom, his partner Dave and some of the family members that evening. The following morning, we met again with Tom and Dave at the boat landing to devise a strategic plan to hopefully locate the fishermen. We decided I was to focus a search area approximately 5 miles off shore near a cell phone ping that was detected and Tom was to work from the portage entry and work towards the direction of the the cell ping.

September 29th and day one of our search efforts were not as calm as we would have liked. We were in 400 feet of water and having trouble getting the tow fish (sonar) near the bottom. The wind, waves and current were making it very challenging to get good images.

September 30th, and day two, we mounted a depressor wing that a good friend of mine; Will Nash, had made for us. To buy one of these depressors new is $4000.00. (Think of a lead weight you attach to a fishing line). It’s essentially a 40 pound weight attached to the tow fish that is hydrodynamically shaped so it glides through the water and helps drive our tow fish down to the depths that we need, allowing us to get great images of the lake bottom. Unfortunately, nothing of interest had shown up on our images by the end of the day.

October 1st, and day three, we located a boat in 280’ of water. We circled around to make a second pass of the possible missing 14’ boat and received a very nice image confirming it was an actual boat that measured approximately 16’. The excitement of finding the boat rapidly went south.

All of the sudden our boat stopped and began taking an immediate 180 degree turn. At this same time, realizing I still have 600’ of cable out with a $35,000.00 tow fish attached, I only have 50’ of cable remaining on the winch and cable is starting to get pulled out. It’s like catching a big fish that starts to strip line from your reel. You see, the winch is designed much like that of a fishing rod. It will let out cable if it snags something, instead of breaking the cable. This is my first experience snagging on something, yet I know it’s always a serious problem we can encounter.

We slowly directed the boat in the direction of the tow fish, reeling up cable to the point that is was straight beneath our boat and was pulling tight. I knew we were still hung up on the snag, so I called Tom and Dave over for help.

Having about $175,000.00 of my equipment hanging on this cable was not a good feeling. Tom must have clearly understood from the tone of my voice because it didn’t take them long to arrive.

Tom went ahead to deploy his ROV and we first thought it was possibly a fishing net we snagged. From the view of Tom’s ROV camera, it looked like we were free from our snag. We couldn’t see anything on my tow fish and began to winch the fish up but quickly notice it was still pulling up very had. When we finally got the tow fish up to the waters surface, we noticed an anchor line from the boat on the bottom was wrapped around our tow fish.

With the help of Tom and Dave we were able to get the anchor line from the boat on the bottom up and tied off to Tom’s boat. There is no way we could have ever got this all done without these guys. Once we caught our breath, Tom and Dave again deployed the ROV to investigate the boat to see if it’s in fact, the 14’ boat we’ve been searching for. These guys worked incredibly as a team.

Soon we identified this was the 14’ boat of Karvonan’s and that the three missing fishermen are in close proximity to the boat. We quickly notified the local authorities who passed on approval for Tom to recover the fisherman using his ROV. Tom and Dave were able to bring two of the three individuals up to the surface and on the boat. The third, will require additional assistance because of entanglement issues. (We’ve been told on Monday, October 3rd, the Michigan State Police will be on scene to utilize a larger ROV to bring the last remaining fisherman home).

We then all met the family back at the dock to brief them on the situation. This always becomes one of the toughest moments. However, we know this is what offers families the chance to move forward in the grieving process and accommodate their family members.

It’s important we recognize and give appreciation for the many others who assist in these endeavors. It’s not always possible to list everyone but we try to make sure it’s known who the unsung heroes are. For those who haven’t physically taken part in operations like this before, it’s important you are aware the sacrifice involved and vital importance their roles play…To Beth Darst for once again taking time off from work and doing so much to facilitate our operations running smooth. Will Nash and his engineering talents with the depressor wing. The Coast Guard that got us in touch with the MSP who in turn, placed us in contact with the Houghton County Sheriff’s Department which shared information on this case. Super 8 in Houghton for offering us a discounted rate but once we arrived the owner decided to not charge for as long as we needed to be there. The Marina for allowing us to dock our boats. And largely for Tom Crossman and his partner Dave Phillips accepting our offer to assist. They helped in the heat of the moment and shared their knowledge and passion towards the same goal we all have; providing families the closure that is so important.

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-42790600-1', 'bruceslegacy.com'); ga('send', 'pageview');