Prayer Vigil Held For Man Presumed Drowned In Lake Michigan

Posted at 10:53 PM, Jul 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-02 05:55:03-04

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. – As the sun started to set over Lake Michigan, more than 100 friends and family of John English made their way to the end of a pier behind the Grand Haven Coast Guard Station.

It was a prayer vigil for a man from Walker who will be remembered as a loving father, a medic for Life Ambulance, and a teacher.

“He’s been like a father figure to me,” said Alex Pipitone, who was at the vigil Monday.

Pipitone said he will remember English’s selfless acts, such as the time English helped Pipitone and his band, who were struggling musicians. “He booked us a gig to help us get to Ireland,” said Pipitone. “We are really grateful for him.”

Others, like Erin Hendrickson, will simply remember English’s reputation.

“His family was definitely there for everyone,” she said. “They are all very loving and caring people.”

During the vigil, the last search boat pulled in for the night. Twelve people and five boats from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, Muskegon County, and Norton Shores had been on the water since early Monday morning.

“We have just a very large area to work in and they are working a grid search in that area,” said Lt. Steve Kempker with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.

English was coming back from Muskegon with ten friends on a boat, according to Lt. Kempker. They stopped for a swim, and English started to struggle in the water. His friends on the boat tried to rescue him but could not.

“Our goal right now is to make a recovery for closure, both for his friends and especially for his family,” Lt. Kempker said.

The search teams are expected back on the water on Tuesday and hope to have the help of Michigan State Police.