Money raised for cops after dog finds body in lake

Nicquel Terry, and Mark Hicks

For 20 years, Edward J. Koenigbauer took his boat out on the water and stopped for a swim.

Edward J. Koenigbauer's daughter, Lynn Maison, left, and his wife, Nancy Koenigbauer, right, (her mother), and MSP Sgt. Dave Yount, center, pet his police dog, Lightning, before the check presentation.

It was what he loved most, his family said, and a hobby the 81-year-old came to enjoy during retirement.

On July 5, Koenigbauer was boating with a 75-year-old Grand Rapids man on Big Glen Lake in Empire Township when the pair got off to swim in an area north of Inspiration Point, the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office reported.

The 18-foot 1987 Glastron boat they were in, which wasn’t anchored, drifted away and Koenigbauer became distressed and eventually drowned.

The other man was rescued by a boater.

Multiple dive teams spent several days searching for Koenigbauer’s body and were ready to call off the search. But Michigan State Police Sgt. Dave Young and Lightning, his 9-year-old German shepherd from the department’s canine unit, showed up and restored hope.

Within two hours Lightning located him about 28 feet deep in the lake.

“All our hopes were pinned on this man and this dog who saved the day,” Mary Shoemaker, Koenigbauer’s daughter, said Wednesday.

The miraculous rescue prompted a number of organizations to make donations to support the canine unit and other agencies involved.

On Wednesday, Koenigbauer’s family presented a $950 check to the unit.

Lightning plays with a ball as his handler, MSP Sgt. Dave Yount, Nancy Koenigbauer, the wife of Edward J. Koenigbauer and her daughter-in-law, Karen Koenigbauer watch.

Shoemaker said the family was grateful for Lightning and the efforts by the rescue teams.

“The response to my dad’s death was overwhelming,” Shoemaker said from the donation event at Gompers, Cornish & Barr insurance agency in Macomb Township. “We received an outpouring of support.”

Family members described Koenigbauer as a devoted father, husband and friend who loved people.

Koenigbauer retired from the Center Line Public School District where he taught for at least 30 years. Students there knew him as “Mr. K,” family members said.

“He was a people person,” said Marc Recor, Koenigbauer’s brother-in-law. “He just really cared about his family.”

Young said the state police will use the family’s donation for equipment, training and rewards for the Canine Unit.

He said it’s “not a difficult task” for dogs to locate bodies under water.

“You just need a good dog with a good sense and a good drive,” Young said. “We (the Canine Unit) are used as a locating tool to find things and help the officers out.”

Wednesday’s donation was another chance to highlight the Canine Unit, launched in 1960, that handles more than 5,000 service requests annually and is considered among the largest and busiest in the country, according to the agency’s website.