DETROIT (AP) — One of the winningest quarterbacks in college football history has been missing for days and family members expressed concern he may have suffered "a mental episode," a Michigan law enforcement official said yesterday.
Cullen Finnerty, who led Grand Valley State University to three Division II national titles and more than 50 wins during his four years as a starter in Allendale, Mich., last decade, went missing Sunday while fishing along the Baldwin River, not far from where his family owns a cottage.
Finnerty, 30, last spoke to a family member that night in a phone call in which he said "he was nervous about something," Lake County Sheriff Robert Hilts said. Based on that call, the family suspected "he might be having some kind of a mental episode — that he was either afraid or something and ran off into the woods," Hilts said.
The sheriff said authorities had been tracking Finnerty's cellphone "until it went dead." Searchers found a small pontoon boat Finnerty was using to fish, but no other trace of the 6-foot-3, 230-pound ex-athlete.
Searchers will have their work cut out for them, Hilts said.
"This is the last river that I'd pick to fish," he said, citing logjams and dense brush. "And it's a very tough river to navigate."
Searchers from the sheriff's office, state police and area fire departments were fanning out across a square-mile area of Webber Township, about 65 miles north of Grand Rapids.
"We will search until we find him," Hilts said.
In addition, dozens of current and former Grand Valley State players, coaches and staff hopped on a bus and headed north to Lake County to lend a hand in the search effort.