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ST. MARYS — Less than 24 hours after a drifting boat touched off a search for a missing boater, the body of a 59-year-old man was found near Riley Bay in Grand Lake St. Marys.
The body of James Price was found near Riley Bay Wednesday afternoon — less than a day after emergency personnel started searching for him after his 22-foot pontoon boat was found adrift Tuesday night. Price’s body was found near where his boat was located.
“Last evening at 6:20 p.m., we had a report of a drifting boat on Grand Lake St. Marys,” Ohio Department of Natural Resources West Central District Park Manager George Sholtis said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “Upon investigating the boat, it was determined the boater who was occupying the boat was missing and a search ensued that night.”
Officials from the Division of Watercraft, state park office, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, St. Marys Township Fire Department and Montezuma Fire Department assisted in the search. Several K-9 units were brought in today to assist in the search for Price.
“The search resumed this morning,” Sholtis said. “At approximately 2:20 p.m. today, a body was discovered in that area and was brought to shore and was confirmed as the victim who was missing.”
Sholtis said the windy weather Tuesday night made the lake choppy. Sholtis declined to reveal if Price was wearing a life jacket.
“I’m not sure of the height (of waves) or wind speeds,” Sholtis said. “It calmed down this morning but then it picked up.”
Sholtis said the investigation into what caused Price to fall into the water will continue. He also declined to comment as to if alcohol played a factor.
“I believe he was an experienced boater,” Sholtis said. “The Mercer County coroner was notified and an autopsy will be conducted.”
Sholtis said Price’s death was the first at Grand Lake St. Marys since 2005. That year, two Mercer County teens drowned in the lake when the rowboat they were in capsized. Sholtis said there have been six fatalities at state-operated lakes so far this year.