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Cullen Finnerty found dead near Baldwin

7:39 AM, May 29, 2013   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: PHOTOS: Search team finds Cullen Finnerty dead
  • Former Grand Velley State quarterback Cullen Finnerty stretched before a workout with former NFL quarterback Steve DeBerg, hoping to be drafted by the NFL, at Ed Radice Park on Thursday, March 8, 2007 in Tampa, Fla. / Craig Litten / Associated Press

UPDATE -10:30 p.m.
BALDWIN, Mich. (WZZM/Detroit Free Press) -- Police say former Grand Valley State quarterback Cullen Finnerty's body has been found.

Finnerty was found in the woods tonight after disappearing Sunday. Lake County Sheriff Robert Hilts confirmed the death at a news conference.

"We were walking a good line," said Scott Boyd, who was on the search party that found the body. "I squatted down. We had seen some trail. And a girl shouted. She walked right up on it. I thought, 'Oh no.' "

Boyd sat on a curb, staring off into space.

"I can't believe it," Boyd said.

Finnerty was fishing alone Sunday on the Baldwin River northeast of Baldwin. His family owns a cabin near Bray State Forest. Police say Finnerty called his wife Sunday night and said he was in danger, according to Hilts.

About 100 current and former football players and coaches from Grand Valley State searched through the thick, swampy woods northeast of Baldwin this afternoon, looking for Finnerty. The football players broke up and worked in small teams, stretching out, working slowly through the dense forest, focusing on 2 square miles of private and public land about 65 miles north of Grand Rapids.

Finnerty was found wearing fishing waders and a camouflaged jacket. He was in the woods about a half mile north of where he disappeared while on a fishing trip. There were no apparent injuries and no signs of foul play, according to Hilts.

"There was nothing obvious to us, to the view, of anything that would have caused his death," Hilts said.

An autopsy will be performed.

Finnerty, who was the starting quarterback on Division II national championship teams in 2003, '05 and '06, had spent the holiday weekend with family near Baldwin, according to his father-in-law, Dan Brink of Muskegon.

"We had brats and hamburgers on Saturday and grilled chicken on Sunday," Brink said. "Everything was cool. It was a great weekend. We had a lot of smiles, a lot of laughs. There were no indications. There were no problems."

Brink said Finnerty decided to go fishing Sunday night.

"It was a nice night on Sunday and we thought, 'There is a nice stretch of the river,' and he got himself one of those boats, and he had been practicing on it. It's a riverboat, a raft.

"We were only a quarter mile from each other," Brink continued. "He ended up exactly where we told him to end up."

After Finnerty called his wife, he disappeared.

Police found his small boat but no fishing equipment.

Finnerty, 30, was married with two small children. He was a star quarterback at Brighton High School.

"This sucks man," said Joe Wohlscheid, who played offensive line when Finnerty was at GVSU. "Cullen was a great guy."

BALDWIN, Mich. (WZZM) -- The body of former GVSU quarterback Cullen Finnerty has been found in Lake County.

Finnerty's former football coach tells WZZM 13 Finnerty's body was recovered around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Lake County Sheriff Bob Hilts says a search crew found Finnerty's body half of a mile north of where his pontoon boat was found.

Investigators say the body was discovered deep in the woods under a thick pine tree. There were no visible wounds or apparent cause of death.

Police do not yet have a theory on the cause of death and are treating it as a crime scene.
An autopsy will likely be performed as soon as Wednesday.

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