GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) - As the search for the body of a longtime paramedic continued for a second day on Lake Michigan, his coworkers waited.
John English of Walker is presumed drowned after jumping off a pleasure boat for a swim on Sunday afternoon, deputies say.
The U.S. Coast Guard used a helicopter and boats Monday, while dive crews used four sonar devices to search the lake, according to the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office.
Meanwhile, Life EMS employees and friends of English kept vigil at the search command post at the Coast Guard station in Grand Haven.
PHOTOS: The search for John English
"John has a lot of family, a lot of friends, and we need to help put closure to that for them," sheriff's office Lt. Steve Kempker said.
Coworkers say they will keep a crew at the Coast Guard station until his body is found.
"They've been here since about 1 o'clock this morning. Some of them have been here and been awake since that time. There are some that are coming and going. So it's obvious that Life EM has a tight knit group, tight family there," Kempker said.
They have asked to transport his body once it's recovered.
"That really doesn't surprise me that they'd want to do that. It's one of their own. They're going to want to make sure that he's properly taken care of, the family's properly taken care of, and we will allow that and let them make the transport once he's recovered," Kempker said.
The 47-year-old English not only worked 20 years as a medic, but also helped with Camp 911, a free program that teaches kids about stranger danger.
English was on an annual excursion with other paramedics when he jumped in for a swim about 4 p.m. Sunday. He was not wearing a life jacket.
Where the boat had stopped about three-quarters of a mile offshore near North Beach Park, the water was between 30 and 50 feet deep. Storm Team 8 said a buoycam near Port Sheldon showed northwest winds gusting at 17 mph around 4 p.m. Sunday. The air and water were both 69 degrees. Waves were 2.4 feet with a wave period of 3.5 seconds.
English started to struggle as the current and wind separated him from the boat. Others on the boat tried to rescue him, tossing him a rope, and throwing a life preserver several times.
"This was their friend and I'm sure they did everything they could in their power to save their friend. And it just didn't work out this time," Senior Chief Kirk McKay of the Coast Guard said.
"Short of other people jumping into the water, that's not always encouraged neither. If they don't put a life jacket on they could possibly become a victim also," Kempker added.
Authorities inspected the boat after the drowning and found that it was in compliance, had all the required life jackets and life ring.
"As far as we know, he had all of his safety equipment and they were responsible mariners. And there's no reason that anything like this should have happened," McKay said.
Kempker said the incident is a reminder to wear life jackets while in the big lake.
"Lake Michigan is very unpredictable and safety's got to be your number one thing when you're out on that lake," Kempker said.
Deputies said those on the boat were drinking, but they say alcohol did not play a role.
The search will continue Tuesday in necessary and if lake conditions are favorable.
Life EMS employees will hold a vigil Monday evening on the Grand Haven pier near the Coast Guard Station. It is set to start between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
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