Body found in Belleville Lake in search for missing swimmer

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News
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Belleville — Authorities have recovered a body late Thursday morning from Belleville Lake as part of their search for a young man who disappeared while swimming Wednesday night, according to authorities.

Crews had been searching for a 17-year-old male after he disappeared from sight after diving off a boat in the lake. A 911 call just before 8 p.m. Wednesday brought emergency responders to the scene in western Wayne County.

The victim has not been officially identified by Belleville police or Van Buren Township officials. According to cousin Kenesha Ikner, the missing swimmer is Shanari London of Detroit. A group of family remembers made the trip to the lake Thursday to keep vigil.

"He was with his dad," Ikner said. "They were on a boat ride. (London) saw other kids swimming, and he wanted to swim, too."

Ikner said London could swim but the depth of the water may have been too much for him.

"He's a good kid, very friendly and not afraid of anything," she said.

London recently graduated from Osborn High School. After considering the military, he had opted to go to college.

Daniel C. Besson, Van Buren Township’s fire chief, said conflicting accounts of where the teen entered the water hampered attempts to locate the body.

The body is being transported to the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office. Identification from the family is still pending, Besson said.

"At this point, we do not suspect any foul play," Besson said after meeting with the family. "But it will be up to the medical examiner to determine that."

On Wednesday, divers worked until 10 p.m. when the lack of light and issues of visibility along the bottom forced them to stop.

Thursday morning, boats from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and Van Buren Township criss-crossed the man-made lake just west of the bridge leading into Belleville. Crews used sonar to map the bottom of the lake, which reaches 16 feet in depth.

Just after 10 a.m. Thursday, two boats peeled away as family members were saying London's body had been found. One woman among the family members cried: “Oh God, please. God, wake me up, please. I'm in a nightmare, God, I'm in a nightmare."

The lake is part of the Huron River and this incident would be the second in four days where it claimed a life. On Saturday, 50-year-old Orlando Ponder drowned after jumping into the water to retrieve the cover of a boat motor he had been working on.

“Probably in each of the last five to six years, we’ve had a drowning every year,” Besson said.

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