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Southfield Fire Chief Drowned in Boating Accident

It was sad news last week when local residents learned that Southfield Fire Chief Keith Rowley drowned in a boating accident on July 31. Christensen Law urges residents to take two lessons from the fatal accident: adults should always wear a floatation device when boating, and boat drivers should never drink and drive.

Southfield Fire Chief Keith Rowley was well loved by the residents of his city. He had implemented the Technical Rescue program and the Urban Search and Rescue Team, making the Southfield Fire Department better equipped to respond to the city’s needs.

That’s why Fire Chief Rowley’s recent death was so jarring. Rowley was riding in a 40-foot Trojan powerboat on Lake St. Clair on July 31, when he went overboard. The driver of the boat circled a few times as passengers scrambled for a life ring, but by the time they could get the floatation device to him, he had already gone under.

The water in that part of Lake St. Claire was 10-15 feet deep, but because the boat’s GPS tracker and radar were not activated, it took 17 Macomb County rescue divers days to recover his body. When asked about the search, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham told the Macomb Daily:

“We are happy to have recovered Chief Rowley’s body, but our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and colleagues. . . . This is how we operate, no matter who the individual is. We wanted to bring closure to the family.”

It looks as though alcohol contributed to Southfield Fire Chief Keith Rowley’s death. The 55-year-old driver of the boat was arrested for operating while intoxicated and will be facing charges in Macomb County. Michigan law prohibits drivers from operating any vehicle – car, motorcycle, or boat – with an alcohol content over 0.08 percent. In addition to being illegal, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous.

The attorneys at Christensen Law extend their sympathies to the Rowley family. They echo the thoughts of Southfield’s city administrator:

“The entire Southfield family is greatly saddened by the loss of Fire Chief Rowley,” City Administrator Fred Zorn said in a release. “He was extremely well liked by city staff and residents in the community. He will be greatly missed.”

Southfield’s mayor, Donald Fracassi, said in a statement:

“We extend our deepest condolences to the Rowley family and all who knew him . . . . Chief Rowley was one of Southfield’s own.”

The Christensen law staff knows how hard fatal boating accidents can be on the families of their victims. They hope their readers will learn from Fire Chief Rowley and his friends’ mistakes: to always wear a personal floatation device and to never drink alcohol before boating.

Christensen Law attorneys have been representing boating accident victims for over 20 years. They can help the families recover medical and burial expenses, as well as compensate them for their family member’s wrongful death. If you or someone you know has been injured in a boating accident, contact Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan, today for a free consultation.