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Divers recover body of missing Tri County student

By Andy Kraft on Saturday, March 31, 2012

PIERSON TOWNSHIP- Montcalm County Sheriff’s divers have recovered the body of a 16-year-old Tri County student 38 hours after a boating incident.

Dalton Gustinis (from his Facebook page)

The body of Dalton Gustinis was recovered at 2 p.m. today about 300 yards southwest of the boat launch in the center of the lake in about 35 feet of water, according to Montcalm County Sheriff’s Lt. Steve Russell.

Divers from Kent County and Montcalm County recovered Gustinis after using sonar equipment to locate the body.

Gustinis was wearing heavy work boots, which likely made it difficult to swim, according to Russell.

Deputies were dispatched to Little Whitefish Lake in Pierson Township at about 12:30 a.m. Friday.

Gustinis, Nathan Mackenzie and David Vandyke, all 16-year-old students at Tri County High School, launched a 14-foot aluminum boat at the public boat launch. A short time later, the boat began to take on water and capsized, according to deputies.

The teenagers attempted to swim back to the boat launch but Gustinis was separated from Mackenzie and VanDyke. When the two teenagers returned to shore, they discovered their friend was missing.

None of the teens were wearing lifejackets.

Russell said Montcalm County Emergency Medical Services transported Gustinis’ body to a secluded location where Gustinis’ family was able to say goodbye to the 16-year-old and begin to find some closure.

“This was a big operation,” Russell said. “It’s a lot of relief for the family and for our guys as well.”

Kent County and Ottawa County sheriff’s officials assisted Montcalm County in search and recovery efforts starting around 12:30 a.m. Friday. Divers searched the area until dusk the next evening, then returned at about 8 a.m. this morning.

“We couldn’t have done it with their manpower and technology,” Russell said. “I’m not sure with the size of this lake we would have had the resources and technology to make the recovery by ourselves.”

Russell said his officers will meet this evening to debrief, as well as to clean up their search and rescue equipment.

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