Sixth Drowned Swimmer Found in Lake Mich.
Jul. 07, 2003
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) _ The bodies of two people who drowned along a three-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline were recovered Sunday, bringing to six the total number found dead in the choppy waters.
A seventh swimmer who disappeared in the area at the same time Friday was still missing and presumed dead.
The swimmers got into trouble during a three-hour period after thunderstorms ripped across the lake and hit western Michigan's Berrien County, kicking up waves and creating what the Coast Guard described as strong rip tides and an undercurrent.
``Weather is a key factor,'' Coast Guard Petty Officer Melissa Pese said in St. Joseph, about 15 miles north of the stretch of beach where the swimmers disappeared.
Leslie Schmidt said she could feel the water tugging at her Saturday as she waded at the edge of Lake Michigan at Warren Dunes State Park, where two men were killed and one was missing after trying to help a boy struggling in the water. The boy was rescued.
``There's definitely a pull,'' Schmidt, of Geneva, Ill., told the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune.
No lifeguards are posted at Warren Dunes or other beaches in the area, but flags are posted to indicate degrees of danger.
Red flags flew on Friday and Saturday, indicating swimmers should stay out of the water. The sheriff's department said warnings also were made over a public address system.
Conditions improved at Warren Dunes on Sunday, and yellow flags warned swimmers to use caution, park employees said.
Vickie Russell, who lives near Warren Dunes, said waves were high on Friday.
``We've never heard of this many drownings at one time,'' Russell told The Grand Rapids Press. ``They must have ignored the red flags and the undertow.''
One of the missing swimmers and two of the dead were among six people who had gone into the water at Warren Dunes to save a 12-year-old boy who was floundering in the waves.
Ismael Gonzalez, 22, and Roland Rodriquez, 15, both of Chicago, and one other would-be rescuer disappeared. Authorities recovered Gonzalez's body Saturday and Rodriquez's on Sunday. Still missing was Marcos Reynoso, 25, also of Chicago.
Another swimmer from Chicago was missing off Bethany Beach.
The second body recovered Sunday, found off Warren Dunes State Park, had been identified, but a name was not released pending family notification, officials said.
Earlier, officials said a 57-year-old man and his 66-year-old wife drowned at Cherry Beach. At neighboring Harbert Beach, a 59-year-old man drowned several hundred feet off shore.