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Bay County volunteer searching for missing boater arrested

Cole Zielinski’s family says Roger Nickel is harassing them and posting conspiracy theories about his disappearance

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Bay County Volunteer Searching for Missing Boater Arrested

Eearly Thursday morning, Bay County deputies were called to the Speedway off of Wilder Road in Bay City. That's where police say they found Nickel's acting "erratic" -- allegedly throwing trash cans and vandalizing the property.

BAY CITY, Mich. (WJRT) - A Bay County family that has spent days searching for their missing loved one in the Saginaw Bay now said they are being harassed by one of the volunteers helping to lead the search.

Cole Zielinski, his fiancée and a dog were out on the bay Sunday, when the dog jumped in. Zielinski went in after him, went under water and hasn’t been seen since.

The U.S. Coast Guard called of its part of the search for Zielinski on Tuesday. Since then, volunteers have stepped up to continue the search, including Bay City resident Roger Nickel.

Nickel continually posted on Facebook, showing him in a plane flying over the bay.

“We have planes now that will be doing search and rescue here for sure today,” said Nickel in a Facebook Live post.

However, after several days, the family says they’re scared to go on camera because Nickel’s mood changed. They said he started harassing them and posting conspiracies about Zielinski’s disappearance.

“I don’t know whose playing games, but I’m not playing and I’m not leaving until the family asks me to leave, which they might because we aren’t really understanding each other,” Nickel said on a Facebook Live video.

Then early Thursday, Bay County sheriff deputies were called to the Speedway on Wilder Road in Bay City. Police say they found Nickel acting “erratic” -- allegedly throwing trash cans and vandalizing the property.

On Thursday afternoon, Nickel was charged with assaulting, resisting and obstructing police.

“I don’t need an attorney. I understand the right. I don’t want an attorney and I don’t need one,” Nickel told Bay County District Judge Mark Janer during his arraignment on that charge.

Janer also arraigned Nickel on three counts of violating his probation in regards to a previous conviction this year of drinking and driving. Judge Janer set Nickel’s bond for $5,000.

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office did not return messages Friday seeking comment about Nickel’s case.

Despite the Coast Guard calling off the search, the family is still hoping to find Zielinski.

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