Detroit man, 80, drowns at Belle Isle

James David Dickson and Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

An 80-year-old Detroit man who fell off a boat on Belle Isle at the Detroit Yacht Club on Tuesday night has died, Michigan State Police said Wednesday in a statement.

Columbus Johnston had slipped into the water while the vessel still was positioned outside the private yachting facility on Belle Isle at about 8:20 p.m., said Michael Day, Coast Guard petty officer.

The Detroit Police Department’s Dive Team, Coast Guard personnel and Michigan State Police divers rushed to the scene within minutes; Johnston was pulled from the water nearby and rushed to Detroit Receiving Hospital, where he died.

Johnston was on a boat with his wife when she realized he’d fallen into the water while adjusting a rope that kept their boat secured to the dock. She tried to throw him a rescue ring, but he was unable to grab it. Within 40 minutes of Johnston falling in the water, DPD’s dive team found him in about five feet of water near the dock of the yacht club, the statement said.

An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday to determine the official cause of death, the statement said.