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MONROE COUNTY, MI (Toledo News Now) -
The United States Coast Guard has positively identified the two bodies found near Estral Beach, MI as those of two missing Detroit area boaters.
The two men were reported missing after they did not return from a fishing trip Wednesday evening.
The Coast Guard says Godfried McKinney, 54, of Southfield, MI, and Kendrick Covington, 64, of Detroit, were found dead off Estral Beach around 10:50 a.m. Thursday after more than a six-hour search by multiple authorities.
The search began around 5 a.m. Thursday after McKinney's wife called saying her husband and Covington were unaccounted for still. McKinney's truck and trailer were still parked at the Front Street boat ramp in Monroe Thursday morning.
"We were looking for two missing boaters, and the border patrol found the bodies of two males floating in the lake about six miles from shore," said Major Jeff Kemp with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.
Officials and boaters say McKinney's 14-foot fishing boat was not safe to be out on the water in Wednesday's weather conditions.
"Any time you get winds upwards of 15 miles an hour, you're ending up with 4-foot waves and the chop comes from every direction. It's a dangerous place," explained Gary Marklein, a frequent Lake Erie boater.
Marklein says he was an acquaintance of the men, and says even with his larger boat, he knew better about going out on the water Wednesday.
"At 8 p.m. they said it was supposed to be in the 20s, so I unhooked, you know. No fish is worth this," said Marklein.
Officials hope as boating season begins to ramp up, this tragedy will remind those going out on the water to always put safety first.
"Know where you're at. If the wave conditions are high, stay in. If your boat is too small, you just never know what's going to happen on this lake," said Kemp.