Boater found dead in Anchor Bay was avid fisherman

Nicquel Terry, James David Dickson, and Mark Hicks
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Brad Kirby Thacker, left, with his sister, Essie Thacker-Cobb.

There wasn’t much that could keep Brad Kirby Thacker away from fishing.

He would often leave his mechanic job, head straight to his boat and spend the evening catching fish with a good friend, said his younger sister, Essie Thacker-Cobb.

“He liked to fish, cook it, filet it and eat it,” she said.

He went out Wednesday, like so many days before, but his trip ended in tragedy.

A passerby reported spotting his boat sinking at 7:47 p.m. Wednesday about 1,000 yards offshore from a Department of Natural Resources boat launch near Selfridge Air National Guard base, said Chief Petty Officer Lauren Jorgensen of the Ninth Coast Guard District.

After Thacker was reported missing, authorities located the 60-year-old Mount Clemens man’s body about 11:30 p.m.

His boat was located when searchers saw its bow sticking out of the water in Anchor Bay, said Lt. John Michalke of the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

“He died doing what he loved to do, which was fishing,” Thacker-Cobb said. “He was a very well-liked person.”

Another man on the boat was found in the water shortly after the vessel was spotted sinking. It wasn’t immediately clear how long the rescued man had been in the water, Harrison Township Fire Department Battalion Chief Andy Houde said.

Thacker-Cobb said that man was Thacker’s longtime best friend. The two fished together all the time.

Thacker’s friend was brought to shore by a 62-year-old Troy man, Michalke said, who went back out with sheriff’s deputies to look for Thacker, but couldn’t find him.

Using a robot and sonar technology, the sheriff’s dive team located Thacker’s body near Mac & Ray’s restaurant. The U.S. Coast Guard and the marine division of the county sheriff’s office all participated in the search.

The saved man was in the intensive care unit at McLaren Macomb Hospital in Mount Clemens, Houde said.

“He was in critical condition due to hypothermia. He was brought in without a life jacket,” Houde said.

The man is expected to survive, Michalke said.

It wasn’t immediately clear why their vessel sank, Houde said.

Thacker-Cobb said Thacker had three grown sons and was known as the neighborhood car mechanic.

He also gave nicknames to all the children in their family when they were born, she said.

“Everybody loved him,” Thacker-Cobb said. “It was sad that he had to go like that.”

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