Body found on boat that burned, sank in Spring Lake

Posted at 6:10 AM, May 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-08 06:13:30-04

SPRING LAKE, Mich. — Authorities say they discovered a body on board a boat that sunk after catching fire early Sunday morning at the Barrett Boat Works.

Courtesy photo of David Knisley

Courtesy photo of David Knisley

Deputies with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office say it will take time to determine the identity of the body found on board because it was badly burned. The boat's owner, David Knisley, has not been seen since Saturday and authorities have been unable to find him, according to the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office. He was last seen between 12:30 and 1:00 in the morning on Saturday.

Knisley is a full-time firefighter in Grand Rapids.

"We have yet to have contact with the owner of the boat so at this point we are treating the scene that the boat could possibly contain the owner," said Captain John Wolffis, with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department.

The boat was pulled from the water Sunday evening after crews spent several hours working to carefully retrieve it. Because of the damage sustained from the fire, crews said they had to slowly lift it from the water to avoid causing further damage.

Knisley's boat was one of two that burned after officials said the fire spread. Authorities responded to the area around 5:15 a.m. Sunday. The Barrett Boat Works is located at 821 W. Savidge St., on the waterfront in Spring Lake.

Photo courtesy of Ross Johnston

Photo courtesy of Ross Johnston

The possibility of a fellow fire fighter on board made this investigation especially difficult, authorities said.

"There is no question that when you hear that it brings a different component to that" said Brian Sipe, fire chief with the Spring Lake Fire Dept.

"When people tell you that one of your own, could be missing or anything like that it hits home."

The cause of the fire remains unknown.