Belleville Lake drowning victims identified
Editor's note: This article has been updated with comments from Van Buren Township police.
Police have identified two people who drowned Saturday in Belleville Lake near Van Buren Park.
Eric Wayne Rose, 28, of Wayne, and Heather Nicole Hill, 20, from Canton, drowned in the lake after becoming disoriented in the dark, Van Buren Township police said.
At 9:56 p.m. the Van Buren Township police dispatch center received a 911 call from a person who said he thought his two friends may have drowned in the lake. He said the three of them had been at the beach in Van Buren Park and had walked out on the sand bar and got onto a boat that was anchored on the sand bar.
At 9:40 p.m., the three left the boat and began to walk back to the park because of poor lighting conditions, according to Van Buren Township Police Captain Gregory Laurain.
Laurain said there had been a storm in the area earlier in the day causing the park to lose some of its power.
"The lights that would have normally been on were off," Laurain said. "People that were out there said it was pitch dark."
When they decided to go back to the shore, the friend told Rose and Hill to follow him, Laurain said.
"But they said, 'No, it's not the way,' Laurain said. "From what I understand it was so dark, you could not even see the beach."
The caller became separated from Rose and Hill.
Laurain said from the beach, there’s a walkway to the sandbar. "If you walk onto the sandbar, you’re in knee high to waist high water," he said. "If you deviate from that, it drops off into deeper water."
Eventually, the friend became concerned that his friends were in trouble, but he was unable to locate them.
He went to a nearby party store and called 911.
A search began Saturday night but was called off at 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning as conditions deteriorated due to thunderstorms, township police officials said.
Sunday morning, Van Buren Township and Wayne County dive teams recovered both of the bodies in the lake. Rose and Hill were found within 30 feet of each other in 8 feet of water nearly 850 feet from the beach.