Lake Champlain boater missing after reportedly falling from sailboat

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Crews are searching for a boater who went missing Monday on Lake Champlain.

According to police, witnesses saw 73 year-old Barry Nelson of Essex Junction attempting to sail a small sailboat from the north shore to the south shore near Charlie’s Boathouse, just off of the Burlington Bike Path and near the mouth of the Winooski River.

Witnesses say he then fell into the water, and they didn’t see him come up.

A search helicopter circled above the lake for several hours, and crews in boats also combed through the area. Burlington Police and Fire were on the scene until late Monday evening.

As of Monday night, they’re considering it a recovery mission.

“First and foremost, we want to find somebody, and that’s obviously our priority,” said Burlington firefighter C. McDonough. “Once we transition to recovery mode, we very much want to bring closure to the family, it’s unfortunate we couldn’t do that tonight.”

Colchester Technical Rescue also responded, and the helicopter search was lead by the Coast Guard and flew up from Cape Cod to assist.

It’s expected that Vermont State Police will join the operation and resume the search on Tuesday.

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