Police: Benton Harbor man drowns in Millburg pond

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — A Benton Harbor man was found dead in a pond Monday morning by Benton Township and Berrien County authorities after apparently drowning sometime on Sunday.

The body of Bobby Lee Lanier, 55, was located around 10:30 a.m. Monday.

Benton Township police responded to a call for a missing person at 9:07 p.m. Sunday. Officers were told Lanier was last seen fishing from a boat on a pond just north of 4545 Territorial Road in Benton Township. The pond is directly east of Millburg Cemetery.

Benton Township Detective Lt. Brian Smit said the boat was found empty and anchored about 40-45 feet from the shoreline.

“(Lanier) had been out there earlier with a friend,” Smit said. “It was (Lanier’s) friend who called it in after checking in on him.”

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Marine Division responded and assisted in a search of the pond and the surrounding areas late Sunday.

The search was suspended around 1 a.m. Monday morning. The sheriff’s dive team resumed its search, with Benton Township police, at 9 a.m. Monday, and authorities found Lanier about an hour and a half later.

Smit said there were no signs of foul play and it appears to be an accidental drowning. Lanier was found in water about 8 feet deep, approximately 25 feet from where the boat was anchored.

Investigators found fishing equipment on and near the boat. The official cause of death remains under investigation, pending autopsy results.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 15, 2015)

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