Body of one of two missing Grosse Ile boaters found in Detroit River

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — The body of Robert Chiles, 52, was found Tuesday evening in the Detroit River, near where the boat he was in with others capsized Sunday.

Chiles, owner of the boat, had been driving at a speed around 50 mph when "he made a turn and then the boat capsized," Wayne County Sheriff's Office told The Detroit News. 

Rob Chiles

Aboard were seven children and five adults, the sheriff's office said.

The Rev. Stephen Rooney, 66, of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Trenton remains missing.

Chiles, president of Livonia-based Alta Equipment Group Inc. and a parishioner of the church, invited Rooney to an afternoon outing on the same river where the body of Chiles' wife was found nearly a year ago. 

Rev. Stephen Rooney

The 39-foot Nor-Tech 390 sport boatcapsized at about 7:36 p.m. near Stony Island, authorities said. 

Grosse Ile Police and Fire Department said someone in a boat from Ontario helped rescue several of the people on board.

Detroit Bishop Gerard William Battersby held a vigil service for Rooney and Chiles on Monday in the parish parking lots, where people prayed for the rescue of the two men.

"We come together this evening with heavy hearts, but we do not come as people with no hope, we come together because even this moment is caught up in the resurrection in the truth that Jesus is Lord," Battersby said. 

Christine Chiles

Rooney became close to Chiles and his three children after the death of Chiles' wife, Christine Chiles, in September 2019. More than 100 volunteers searched for two days before Christine Chiles' body was found in the Detroit River near their Grosse Ile home.

Christine Chiles, 51, had drowned. At the time, authorities told The Detroit News it was unclear if depression contributed to her death.

A close friend, the Rev. Marc Gawronski of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Grosse Ile, spoke at the vigil Monday about the friendship Rooney and the Chiles family shared.

“When you welcome someone into your home … we give somebody a gift of hospitality, but at the same time, we receive so much from them," Gawronski said. "We know that Father Rooney and the Chiles family did this in an extraordinary way. Especially over the last year as they faced the loss of Christine.

Bishop Gerard Battersby, right, hugs the Rev. Brendan McCarrick of St. Vincent Pallotti in Wyandotte, after a vigil for the Rev. Stephen Rooney and Rob Chiles at St. Joseph Catholic Church Parish Center in Trenton, Monday, August 17, 2020.

“They shared meals together and time together, certainly at the Chiles home. Father Rooney was a guest many times … he was able to extend to them through his presence … the gift of Jesus himself. And the Chiles family blessed Father Rooney with friendship and love and the gift of Jesus himself." 

The church requested privacy for the families involved.

Rooney's favorite thing to say was that his home "was a place for play and pray," parishioners said at the vigil.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_