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Search for missing swimmer now a recovery mission in South Haven

Posted at 8:06 AM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 08:33:27-04

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — Crews are continuing their search for a missing 20-year-old from the Lansing area who is presumed drowned in Lake Michigan.

On Tuesday morning, officials launched a drone to search for the victim by air.

Brandon Hinz, the Executive Director South Haven Area Emergency Services, says crews were first called to the beach on Sunday night after the man went underwater while swimming with a friend.

Hinz says conditions were so rough on the water they couldn't even get a boat in the water Sunday night to help search. Instead, crews searched the shoreline and with a drone and the help of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter.

"The lake is very serious, it's a beast and nothing to be toyed with," Hinz said.

"Even on days like this there's no telling where the rip current might be. The currents that run along the shore the currents that run along appear, they just make for a bad combination. And we can give as much warning as we possibly can. But sometimes the people need to heed that warning," he said.

Crews are expected to be back out Tuesday searching for the victim. The North Beach is currently back open after it was blocked off Monday with a fence while crews searched the water.

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue project, a non-profit that keeps tabs of drownings, says so far this year 16 people have already drowned in Lake Michigan.

"These numbers go up almost daily, this time of year," said David Benjamin, co-founder and executive director.

"Unfortunately this summer and every summer drowning is season."

Benjamin recommends families always bring a flotation device in case of an emergency.