Apparent drowning victim still missing at Stony Creek Metropark

Dive team continues search for 21-year-old Malcolm Robert Fairley of Pontiac

By Guy Gordon - Reporter/Anchor

SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Recovery operations continued for a second full day Monday for a 21-year-old Pontiac man who is missing and presumed drowned at Stony Creek Metropark.

The Army reservist was in a paddle boat with friends when he jumped in to test the water's depth. Dive teams are still looking in the water for Malcolm Robert Fairley. By his own mother's admission he was not a strong swimmer. Yet, he jumped in the water anyway on Sunday, leaving a life vest behind.

To rent such a paddle boat, you must have a life jacket onboard. Fairley and three friends did and were on the lake for less than 10 minutes. He spotted other swimmers in waist-deep water.

"There is a sand bar that runs off of an island off there that people were swimming on, so our victim thought he could touch bottom. He jumped in and found out he couldn't touch the bottom," said Sgt. Gary Wiegand, of the Macomb County Dive Team.

Chris Francis saw what happened.

"The arms were flapping around and we were like 4 or 5 feet from him in the water and we couldn't find him, and we were all searching," said Francis.

Witnesses and his friends searched for him in vain. One of them returned Monday to help divers pinpoint a likely location. Divers are working in 8 to 12 feet of water.

After searching until 2 a.m., divers resumed at 8 a.m. Monday. They were using side-scan sonar to aid the search, but it's little help in a man-made lake littered with old stumps and tree trunks.

"There is zero visibility to the divers, they maybe 5 or 6 inches in front of their face ... so they're moving on feel alone," said Wiegand.

Fairley leaves behind a mother and a newborn child. The search will continue Tuesday. It was called off Monday evening due to weather conditions.

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