A father of two has lost his life in Lake Michigan in an attempt to rescue his children from a deadly rip current. The children, aged 12 and 17, were retrieved and assisted back to shore by a first responder.
The 44-year-old father from Lakeville, Indiana, was visiting Lions Park Beach in St. Joseph with his kids on July 30 when the outing took a tragic turn. Four swimmers, including the father’s two children, went into the water and got caught in an undertow, St. Joseph Public Safety Department said in a statement.
“On Thursday July 30, 2020 8:08 p.m. officers from the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety were dispatched to Lions Park Beach for the report of a water rescue in Lake Michigan,” they explained. “Upon arrival four individuals were struggling in the water.”
Officer Fabian Weber was able to reach two of the swimmers, Meghan Lynch and Vincent Ball, on a surfboard, proceeded to pull the swimmers onto the board, and returned them to the safety of the shore.
“The 17 and 12-year-old were rescued by St. Joseph Reserve Officer Everett Gaston,” the safety department said. “However, the 44-year-old male drowned while trying to save his children.”
The father was pulled from the water but was later pronounced dead at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph. The authorities made the decision not to release his name to the media before notifying his extended family of the incident.
“We were being kind of reckless,” rescued swimmer Meghan Lynch told WSBT, “probably shouldn’t have been swimming, but that’s kind of the lesson to be learned. Don’t go out there when it’s this bad.”
On the day the father of two lost his life, southeastern Michigan beaches had received a “high swim risk” warning from the National Weather Service of Northern Indiana and had planted red warning flags by the water in response.
“Last night … the rip current, undertow was severe,” Berrien County undersheriff Chuck Heit told the South Bend Tribune on July 31, adding that the county police department’s marine patrol division and the U.S. Coast Guard were searching for two additional missing persons.
A 13-year-old girl disappeared near Warren Dunes, and a 25-year-old man went missing near New Buffalo on the same day.
The body of the teen was later found at Lakeside, southwest of Grand Rapids, reported the Associated Press. On Aug. 3, search efforts resumed for the 25-year-old, four days after he was first reported missing.
“If you see those [4- to 7-foot] waves developing or you see those red flags … you want to stay out of the water,” WSBT 22 meteorologist Cari Peugeot advised. “The rip current risk is going to be high.”
Earlier in July, a female swimmer drowned at the same location at Lions Park Beach after getting trapped with her sister in heavy surf, Daily Mail reported.
We would love to hear your stories! You can share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org