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Both boaters missing in Detroit River found

Robert Chiles found dead near where boat capsized; body of Rev. Stephen Rooney found mile off Stony Point

Two boaters went missing Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020 in the Detroit River near Grosse Ile.
Two boaters went missing Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020 in the Detroit River near Grosse Ile.

DETROIT – The bodies of two men who went missing after a boat capsized in the Detroit River near Grosse Ile about 7:30 p.m. Sunday have been found.

Officials said 14 people were originally onboard the boat when it turned over. Twelve were saved by a boater who saw everything happening.

Robert Chiles, 52, of Grosse Ile, has been identified as one of the missing men. His body was found about 9 p.m. Tuesday near the site of the accident, police said. An autopsy is expected to be conducted Wednesday by the Office of the Wayne County Medical Examiner.

The other missing person was identified as Rev. Stephen Rooney, 66, who is a priest of a church in Trenton. Rooney’s body was found about 9 a.m. Thursday about a mile off of Stony Point, Estral Beach fire Chief David Millar said. A fishing charter boat found him. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office took custody of the body. The Wayne County medical examiner’s office will also handle this autopsy.

A vigil was held Monday outside the St. Joseph Parish Center, Rooney’s parish. Hundreds of people attended to honor the lives of the two missing men.

The investigation into the accident is ongoing.

Archdiocese of Detroit mourns pastor, parishioner

The Archdiocese of Detroit released the following statements from Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron and Msgr. Charles Kosanke

“I am deeply grieved by Sunday’s tragic boating incident and the loss of Fr. Rooney and St. Joseph parishioner Robert Chiles. Father was a beloved pastor and my deepest condolences go out to the parish community in this time of grief. I offer my condolences, as well, to the Chiles family,” Archbishop of Detroit Allen H. Vigneron said. “We are ardently praying for the eternal repose of this priest and his parishioner. We turn to our merciful Savior in prayer for those who mourn them, with great confidence in his promise to bring us to his Kingdom. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.”

Msgr. Kosanke, pastor of the Basilica of Ste. Anne and Most Holy Trinity Parish, both in Detroit, was on the boat when it capsized and was rescued from the water by Good Samaritans nearby.

“This was an unspeakable tragedy that has affected the lives of many wonderful people. I am very grateful for the quick and unselfish response of nearby people whose actions prevented further loss of life,” Msgr. Kosanke said. “I continue to grief tremendously for Fr. Steve Rooney and Bob Chiles. May they rest in peace in eternal life.”

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About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.