Man who helped with Grand Haven water rescue lost brother to drowning in 2003

Posted at 4:23 PM, Aug 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-06 16:23:02-04

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. -- Dangerous waves on Lake Michigan claimed the lives of two people this weekend and left three more people in the hospital. People formed human chains along the beach on Sunday, working to save a number of swimmers struggling in the waves.

Still, two people died after being pulled from the lake. Ryan Fox who says this loss hits close to home.

Fox lost his brother Andy in 2003 when a current took him under at Grand Haven State Park. Which is why on Sunday, he raced to help.

“So basically another family doesn’t go through what we’ve gone through, and are still going through,” Fox said.

Waves were as high as five feet. A number of people were pulled from the water, but two of them were later pronounced dead. Those victims were identified as 20-year-old Jeremiah Diaz from Lansing, and 64-year-old David Knaffle, a maintenance worker with the City of Grand Rapids.

The city issued Fox 17 a statement following Knaffle's death.

"It is with deep sadness that we mourn the loss of one of our own. Dave was an excellent employee who worked as a maintenance assistant in our Public Services Department. For the past 15 years, he was a valuable member of the City family who took pride in serving the residents of Grand Rapids. He will be missed. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family during this difficult time."

Ryan says it's a frightening reminder of the power of Lake Michigan.

“In our community, there’s a pretty good awareness of rip currents. A lot of the times it’s people from out of town that don’t know, and it’s tough. Tough to see.” Fox said.

Three people are still in the hospital after being pulled out of the water. And as of Monday, the red flags are out at Grand Haven State Park, meaning no one should be out on the water.