Dad found dead in Michigan lake after rescuing son

RICHLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Crews on Sunday recovered the body of a man who went missing in Gull Lake after helping rescue his son from the water Saturday.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas said the body of 39-year-old Danyelle Phillips was found around 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Further details were not immediately available.

The sheriff’s office says Phillips, his 15-year-old son and several others were out on the lake on a pontoon boat when the teen jumped into the water to swim. At some point, he began to struggle prompting the father and others to come to his aid at around 1:15 p.m. Saturday. After successfully getting the boy out of the water, Phillips was nowhere to be seen.

“He was gone,” Matyas told WOOD-TV Saturday. “No idea where he went.”

The boy was taken to the hospital as rescue crews responded to the lake to find his father.

Phillips’ aunt, Barbara Phillips, told 24 Hour News 8 on Saturday that the family is devastated.

“We’re all taking it pretty hard. He came from a big family,” she said. “He was a good kid. He was a good person, he really was.”

She said he was recently married and loved spending time with his children.

“He was always upbeat all the time,” she said. “We’re going to miss him. It’s a sad day.”

A Michigan State Police helicopter was among the many resources assisting in the recovery effort Saturday. At 9 p.m., authorities had not located Phillips and ended the search for the night.

The search resumed Sunday, when about 30 people were helping. Among the boats participating in the effort was one from MSP that is equipped with sonar better suited to the depth of the lake.

Police told 24 Hour News 8 the area that was searched had water temperatures as low as the upper 40s and is about 25 feet deep, but the lake has areas that exceed 100 feet.

The recovery effort was hampered by weather.

“A lot of it … is because of the winds,” explained sheriff’s office Sgt. Todd Meyers. “It’s been very, very windy the last couple days. … And the winds have a tendency to swirl coming out of some of the bays and the lake here, which again does make it difficult.”

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