Coast Guard searching lake for missing boater

August 21, 2009 3:36:30 PM PDT
The U.S. Coast Guard is looking for a missing boater from Northwest, Ind. in the waters of Lake Michigan along the Gary shoreline.Steven Banks, a 59-year-old dentist, went sailing Wednesday and never returned. His sailboat was recovered Thursday night.

Banks is a dentist in Des Plaines who has a beach house in Miller Beach, Ind., a neighborhood of Gary. His wife, Kathy Banks, reported him missing when he did not report to work. She says her husband went out for a day sail Wednesday, which was his normal routine for his day off from work.

"He didn't come to work at noon on Thursday. So, the Coast Guard has been searching since 3 o'clock [Thursday] afternoon, all night and today," she said.

Mrs. Banks also says her husband is a seasoned sailor, expert scuba diver, and a very good swimmer who has traveled the world on scuba diving trips.

"We're hoping everything will turn out alright. He had a wet suit on and a life-jacket. He could be floating in the water for two or three days," she said.

Banks' sailboat was located Thursday by a Coast Guard helicopter about five miles offshore. The Coast Guard, the Department of Natural Resources and other officers said Friday continue their search for Mr. Banks. Gary residents have also joined the search. One resident said he saw Mr. Banks go sailing on Wednesday.

"Basically, [I] saw a gentleman going out on the boat. He was struggling a bit. He ended up making it past the break, and I came out at 7:30 for a swim, and when I came out, his boat was gone, and I found out today that that someone was lost on a boat. I put it together," Gary resident Josh Musser said.

"They located his sailboat unmanned approximately seven nautical miles offshore in the northerly direction from Gary," said George Degener of the Coast Guard. "They are searching an area of approximately 500 square miles, or about the size of the city of Los Angeles."

Mrs. Banks says she and her son will remain in Miller Beach while they praying for her husband's safe return.

"I'm really, really hoping that they find him today," Kathy Banks told ABC7 Chicago.

Mrs. Banks says her husband started out as a musician in life and always loved adventure.


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